The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace.
This story is based on a gentleman who indeed did... used to come to my parents' house in 1971 from Bangladesh. He was at the University of Rhode Island. And I was four, four years old, at the time, and so I actually don't have any memories of this gentleman.
My parents had an arranged marriage, as did so many other people when I was growing up. My father came and had a life in the United States one way and my mother had a different one, and I was very aware of those things. I continue to wonder about it, and I will continue to write about it.
Relationships do not preclude issues of morality.
I've inherited a sense of that loss from my parents because it was so palpable all the time while I was growing up, the sense of what my parents had sacrificed in moving to the United States, and yet at the same time, building a life here and all that that entailed.
On the screen I saw tanks rolling through dusty streets, and fallen buildings, and forests of unfamiliar trees into which East Pakistani refugees had fled, seeking safety over the Indian border.
He told me he was working as an interpreter in a doctor's office in Brookline, Massachusetts, where I was living at the time, and he was translating for a doctor who had a number of Russian patients. On my way home, after running into him, I just heard this phrase in my head.
I would not send a first story anywhere. I would give myself time to write a number of stories.
When I sit down to write, I don't think about writing about an idea or a given message. I just try to write a story which is hard enough.
I approach writing stories as a recorder. I think of my role as some kind of reporting device - recording and projecting.
The urge to convert experience into a group of words that are in a grammatical relation to one another is the most basic, ongoing impulse of my life.
Winning the Pulitzer is wonderful and it's an honor and I feel so humbled and so grateful, but I think that I'll think of it very much as the final sort of final moment for this book and put it behind me along with the rest of the book, as I write more books.
A lot of my upbringing was about denying or fretting or evading.
I don't know why, but the older I get the more interested I get in my parents' marriage. And it's interesting to be married yourself, too, because there is an inevitable comparison.
I've never had Internet access. Actually, I have looked at things on other people's computers as a bystander. A few times in my life I've opened email accounts, twice actually, but it's something I don't want in my life right now.
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