Today my debut book, Technologies of the Self, is officially out from Brain Mill Press. It won the 2015 Driftless Novella Prize. The story contains sex, drugs, bachata, violence, robots, and Al-Ghazali. And a time-travelling demonic conquistador space knight. Thus far the book has received glowing praise:
“Haris Durrani’s wonderful tale is as much about family, jobs, friends and growing up as it is about demons, time travel, and God–and that’s as it should be. Rich, humane, funny and outlandish, it presages a great career for a young writer with lavish gifts and a generous spirit.” — John Crowley, author of Little, Big
“Haris Durrani’s debut is both a quirky coming-of-age story and a meditation on the technologies we use to make ourselves: immigration, religious conversion, science fiction, sex. It’s so true to mixed experience, it feels defiant.” – Sofia Samatar, winner of the World Fantasy Award
“A subtle and controlled gaze at the contemporary coming-of-age that trusts the reader to travel across time and science. Prerequisites in demonology and philosophy not required but are recommended. This is the kind of yes-yes world-embracing story-telling to challenge plastic realism and announce a writer.” – Ali Eteraz, author of Native Believer
“Technologies of the Self is brave and ruthless, gorgeous, and delicious. It is really magical and magically real: an unfiltered, unapologetic, and unforgettable narrative.” – Daniel José Older, author of Shadowshaper and the Bone Street Rumba series
“In the tradition of Junot Díaz, Durrani offers a rare peek into the rich, often surprising, cultural complexities of being Latino and Muslim in post 9/11 America, an inimitable novella about wrestling with identity where the costs couldn’t be higher. Funny, original, and wonderfully written, Technologies of the Self will keep you turning pages and leave you impressed.” – Murad Kalam, author of Night Journey
“Fantastic, taut, lyrical, funny, and vivid—a family history of faith, time travel, and selfhood in the face of saints and demons.” – Max Gladstone, author of Last First Snow
“Beautifully written, eloquent, Mr. Durrani’s novella evokes time travel in the only way we can make sense of it–through memory. The book is thick with images that rise up larger than themselves, stronger than themselves, softer than themselves.” – Paul Park, author of Princess of Roumania
Buffalo Almanack founding editor Maxine Vande Vaarst and Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox of Brain Mill Press hosted a roundtable discussion on Technologies of the Self and my short story, “Forty-two Reasons.” Highlights below:
“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.” — Maxine Allison Vande Vaarst, Buffalo Almanack
“Santiago is terrifying, mysterious, thrilling, terrible, and we aren’t even sure if he’s real, but we know he has to be defeated. How hard is that for a writer, an artist, to pull off? That punch in our belly of motivation and power and interest to a worthy quest? That’s why Durrani’s work is, first, page-turning. It appeals to our best and strongest impulses, and before we know it, we are getting awakened to all kinds of things that, before, were sleeping and unlit.” — Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox, Brain Mill Press
In this timely and instantly notable fiction debut, Haris Durrani immerses readers in the life of a young American Muslim struggling to understand himself in the context of his family, classmates, and contemporary urban life.
Engineering student Jihad, or “Joe” as he introduces himself in the confusing intersections of post 9/11 New York City, finds himself on a personal quest of possibly a spiritual nature, even if he isn’t sure that’s what it is – after all, it’s hard enough to keep halal in his Dominican-Pakistani-Muslim Washington Heights household.
He’s surprised to find himself in the stories his Uncle Tomás tells of his own youth, stories in which Tomás fights both the devil and the weaknesses of the flesh – often at the same time. Culture, nation, religion, family, identity, race, and time fight for dominion over Jihad until he realizes he is facing the same demon his uncle claims to have defeated, and all Jihad has to fight with is himself.
I will speak about the book on the “Othered” Futures panel at the Bare Lit Festival for writers of color this Saturday in London