Writers Read features compelling novelist who taps her Pakistani and Dutch background

Sorayya Khan – a Pakistani-Dutch-American writer who combines cross-cultural sensibilities with lyrical, haunting prose on war and its impact on humanity – is the last Writers Read guest of the year on Thursday, Mar. 13, at 6:30 p.m. in Common Grounds at EMU.

Khan is the author of two novels, Noor (2003) and Five Queen’s Road (2009), both with story lines that highlight the human strength and spirit despite tragedies. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Pakistan and Bangladesh for Noor and was awarded a Malahat Review Novella prize for a piece that was the starting point for her novel-in-progress.

Soroyya Khan
Soroyya Khan

“Sorayya Khan is a compelling storyteller whose work helps readers become more conversant with South Asian history and cultures,” said Michael Medley, chair of language and literature at EMU. “I am especially impressed with her novel Noor because of the sensitive way that it portrays the traumas of a war that Americans know little about, the Bangladesh war of independence in 1971.

“What is more remarkable is that she has created this work as a person rooted in Pakistan, a nation that has never acknowledged the atrocities committed by its army,” he said. “Her courage in writing this novel can remind us that Americans also suppress the truth or remain willfully ignorant about traumas that we have inflicted on others.”

The daughter of a Pakistani father and a Dutch mother, Khan was born in Europe and moved to Pakistan as a child. She now lives in Ithaca, New York, where her husband is a college professor.

Khan is the recipient of a Constance Saltonstall artist grant, which took her to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the tsunami where she interviewed survivors.

She has been published in various literary quarterlies, including The Kenyon Review and North American Review, and several anthologies.

More information

Sign-language interpretation is available upon request. Admission is free but a donation is encouraged.