Essays

PEN America Logo

The PEN Ten with Sorayya Khan, PEN America. A PEN feature in which I’m asked 10 questions about writing and freedom of expression.

Raising Brown Boys in Post-911 America

Raising Brown Boys in Post-9/11 America, Longreads.  I recall racist threats against my young sons after 9/11 and worry about them as young men in ‘Trumpistan.”  Listening to Kiese Laymon read his powerful essay, What I Pledge Allegiance To, gave me the courage to write mine.

FLEFF Essay Image

Take Me Home, 20 on 20: Essays in Celebration of FLEFF, edited by Patricia Zimmermann and Stephen Tropiano, Ithaca College, 2017. In celebration of 20 years of the Finger Lakes Environmental Festival, I write an essay on novels as my constant.

5 Queen’s Road, Guernica Magazine, December 2015. Playing with memoir in essay form, I offer the story of my grandparents’ 5 Queen’s Road, the home that was the inspiration for my second novel.

The Silence and Forgetting That Wrote NOOR, Journal of Narrative Politics, York University, Canada, April 2015. The essay describes the process of interviewing soldiers who fought in the 1971 war and places it in the context of my own life and my father’s death.

The Sound of Conversation, Autobiographical International Relations: I, IR, edited by Naeem Inayatullah, Routledge, 2011. This essay could just as well be titled, “Why I Write.” It is included in a volume of essays that reveals how authors’ biographies result in their professional subject matter.

A Topography of Banda Aceh:  Notes on a Journey, The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) 2007 at Ithaca College.  As Distinguished Writer at FLEFF, I was invited to write this piece after my visit to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, almost two and a half years after the tsunami.