My short story, “42 Reasons Your Girlfriend Works for the FBI, NSA, ICE, S.H.I.E.L.D., Fringe Division, Men in Black, or Cylon Overlords,” is out in Buffalo Almanack‘s December 2015 Issue (page 11 on issuu or here). It won the Inkslinger Award for best of the issue. Buffalo Almanack also hosted a roundtable with Brain Mill Press on the story and my forthcoming debut, Technologies of the Self (interview on page 35 at issuu or here). They compare the work to two of my favorite living writers, Junot Díaz and G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Alif the Unsen). Surreal and blush-inducingly flattering. They have a fascinating dialogue about race, Muslims, the Dominican Republic, Pakistan, colonialism, history, sexuality, and the surveillance state. I’m also thrilled that they interpreted Technologies of the Self as a superhero origin story. I wasn’t sure if or how readers would catch that, but they have done so brilliantly.
I fell in love with “Forty-Two Reasons” the moment I first encountered it, and Technologies of the Self has only further convinced me that we have a future star in our midst. In both cases, Durrani’s writing is clever and current, beach reading for the justifiably paranoid. These are stories about colonialism, neoliberalism, conspiracy bullshit, and a Trumped-out America at the gates of hell, which is why I find it such a miracle that they’ve got so much time for family dinners and high school romances, too. Durrani’s mix of pulp culture, diaspora angst, and world/family history is so precise, I can’t help but think of Junot Díaz. And that’s not a superficial comparison—the writing is there, too. That’s the potential I see. — Buffalo Almanack
If you like “Forty-two Reasons,” please share it. I hope these are experiences worth sharing with the world. Maybe they will make you laugh. I am told that the story also gives people “the feels” and has made men and women alike cry… which I suppose satisfies the “artist as sadist” trope?
Oh, and in addition to the fantastic illustration below for “42 Reasons,” Buffalo Almanack provided an amazing image (featured above) of an historic painting of Santiago Matamoros/Matajudíos/Mataindios, Saint James the Moor/Jew/Indian-Slayer, vandalized and graffiti’ed into the image of the Devil. Safa safa!
I need to thank many people, in no particular order, for “Forty-two Reasons.” My first readers for their encouragement and constructive criticism: Alay Syed, Chris Owen, Sameea Butt, Priom Ahmed, Mirzya Syed, Shezza Dallal, some who shall go unnamed (you know who you are), and of course my parents. I also need to thank those whose support and guidance, whether they realize it or not, made this publication possible: Sauleha Kamal, Habiba Khokhar, Bushra Rehman, John Crowley, James Hannaham, Hisham Matar, Hamdan Azhar, Wajahat Ali, and Michael Muhammad Knight. A debt of gratitude goes out to The Muslim Protagonist, Muslim Writers Collective, and The Unpublished, where I first read the earliest drafts of the story and was warmed by the unexpected but welcome support. And last but certainly not least Maxine Vande Vaarst of Buffalo Almanack and Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox of Brain Mill Press for encouraging the work and making Joe/Jihad’s fictions a reality on the page.