An excerpt of Barbara Adams’ interview with me for the story in today’s Ithaca Journal newspaper.
“What was the germinating impulse for “City of Spies”? In some fundamental way, the story of “City of Spies” is the reason I wanted to become a writer. When I came to the U.S. from Pakistan in the fall of 1979 to study political science, I was 17. The most disconcerting thing when I arrived at college in Pennsylvania was that nobody knew where Pakistan was, and it was stunning to me . . . . I remember walking through the dorm’s common room in April — the TV was on, showing footage of the U.S. helicopter wreckage in Iran during the hostage crisis. People walked in and out of the room without paying any attention . . . At that time, I had no idea that I wanted to be a writer, but that juxtaposition stuck with me for a long time — the magnitude of the events and the lack of recognition of them. In my country, the late 1970s was a time of great upheaval — there was a military coup, and Prime Minister Bhutto was tried and hanged while I was still living in Pakistan. Then that fall, while I was at college, the U.S. embassy was burned in Islamabad. I wanted to make these events, these people and their lives, accessible in a different kind of way — as opposed to TV images and silence. And I thought I could do that as a writer. So that was my original subject matter for this novel.