Aamer Hussein on ‘The Cloud Messenger’

From The Paris Review:

Hussein300Though The Cloud Messenger is Aamer Hussein’s first novel, it comes after five collections of stories and a novella, Another Gulmohar Tree. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, but a long-time resident of London, Hussein has dramatized the sorts of encounters between and within cultures that reflect his own facility in seven languages. He writes with intelligent restraint about the experience of displacement, but also the indelible richness of wherever we like to think of as home. The Cloud Messenger draws on his own unsentimental education as a student of Farsi to create a romance about language and the unexpected life that reading and translating can take. Last year, we met to discuss the Granta anthology of writing from and about Pakistan at his home in West London.

Could you begin by explaining your background?

I’m from Karachi, third-generation in almost an accidental way, because both my grandfather and father were born there, even though they hadn’t lived there very much until after partition because of certain historical … mishaps, you might say. My mother is from Northern India and from a much more traditional family, although her father was an academic. My own background is very mixed, but all my education was English until I left Pakistan. At the same time, both languages were spoken at home and both parents were practicing believers. Yet we had no sense of confusion about our belonging. It was only when we left the country that we realized how Western we were.

More here. (Note: Both Another Gulmohar Tree and The Cloud Messenger are exquisite books!)