Sabaa Tahir minces no words. Winner of the National Book Award for her most recent book, “All My Rage,” Sabaa may mostly write fantasy (“An Ember in the Ashes” quartet), but she sees the world exactly as it is.
Sabaa’s upbringing in the Mojave desert, isolated nearly 100 miles from the nearest city, exposed her to an unforgiving landscape and also many unforgiving truths of humanity. Within this backdrop, one place held significant importance in shaping her worldview: The Motel, a small business operated by her immigrant parents. As she notes, “The good is what helps you survive, but the bad is what makes you wary and careful and makes you lonely at times.” Sabaa ventured into the realm of academia and later pursued a career in journalism, where her understanding of the world's imperfections deepened. The essence of Sabaa’s stories lies in the raw exploration of sorrow and frustration…and taking action.
In this episode, Sabaa delves into the experiences of her childhood that left an indelible mark on her perspective of the world. From the motel her parents ran, to sonic booms, to wearing (dreaded) dresses on Mondays, Sabaa’s youth sounds eerily like a superhero origin story. She also opened up about the “outsized impact” of her time copy editing at The Washington Post and its influence on her writing. Sabaa reveals how she channels her outrage to resonate with her coming-of-age readers, validating their shared frustrations and coming to terms with her own.
For her reading challenge, Authors of the Muslim Diaspora, Sabaa wants readers to open up to other perspectives from Muslim diaspora authors, including their cultures, traditions, mythologies, and humor. She curated a fabulous reading list, and I invite you to check it out. For Beanstack clients, use the challenge on your site!
Listen to the full episode, “Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: Sabaa Tahir on Bearing Witness” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!
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