Posted on December 9, 2022 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Today we're wrapping up our interview with author Samman Akbarzada.

Akbarzada is a writer from Afghanistan in her early twenties and the author of two books.

Her debut novel, Life is a Movie, is the story of a working child in Kabul, Afghanistan, and her poetry book, A Glimmer in the Dark, was released recently.

Writing, apart from being her favorite respite, has been put forth as a means to give poignant depth to unforgiving tragedies occurring in her motherland.

(Here are the first and second installments of the interview series.)

SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?

SAMMAN: "Sometimes I read all the poems people write, and wrap their naked heart with words, then it dawns on me as to why I live." 

This is the most recent one that I had to save because just look at that. She sent this to me as a response to a very personal poem I shared with a group of special people. I adore her every word.

SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work? 

SAMMAN: When I first began writing, I only wrote short stories and scripts in the sci-fi and fantasy genre for like six years or something. Always a fairytale, other galaxies, and happy endings.

I had told myself I will never write about Afghanistan. I started noticing what was happening in Afghanistan, but I saw the change, the youth being bigger than our problems.

Whenever Afghanistan was mentioned in the global news channels it would be about a terrorist attack or a documentary about an oppressed woman. This would bother me a lot.

I thought of myself as this new generation; I thought we were this new thing and soon the narratives will change. I had sworn I will never write something like that, I will never write about Afghanistan. 

In my late teenage years was when it got harder to ignore. I couldn't anymore. I wrote my first novel (unpublished) which is about mental health. Subconsciously, I turned that into a war story, and by giving the characters foreign names, I thought I did something there and alienated it from Afghanistan. But it only made my guilt worse. 

The lack of representation was getting on my nerves. I started to take notice of how many people were speaking up for the tyrannized women of Afghanistan, for its working children, and it was clear to me that it was not much, at all. If I kept ignoring it and they kept ignoring it for their reasons, how in the world would it change?

It was then when I began writing about Afghanistan, and it was during writing my book Life is a Movie that I realized how much of this heavy burden I had been carrying all along.

I wrote more than half of my book teary-eyed. Found myself writing poems about Afghanistan after opening that locked chamber.

I started writing about the angst that used to get shoved under the rug. Now, it's all I want to do. To write about Afghanistan. 

I'm sharing this lesson I've learned with you: always be true to yourself. Pretending that you don't care, just because you don't know how to fix it, is a hell you don't want to go through. Only by being authentic, we find peace.

I want to make clear that my point with all that you read from me about Afghanistan isn't to downgrade my nation. It's just my way of bearing all that happened and is happening to it.

I believe the purpose of a cynic is to define sentiments with such pessimism so perhaps someone saner comes up with an antidote.

Kudos to the happy poets for saving the day with their endless hopeful explanations and kudos to the gloomy for claiming in sheer anguish why the day needed to be saved.

As long as sad hearts endure, I won't stop writing catastrophes in merciless detail. I'm good at that — my blessing and a curse.  

Keep the children who are being deprived of childhood and dinner in your heart, keep the women being deprived of the right to look at the sunlight, to study, to travel, to dream, to choose, in your heart. Keep your new neighbors speaking a different tongue in your heart.

It takes a lot to get yourself somewhere, from every aspect, physically, mentally, and, financially. So to be discriminated against because of being an immigrant is being punished for surviving. 

Keep love, dreams, and hope alive in your heart because, without them, there's nothing out there. Much love.

* * *

Learn more about Samman Akbarzada on her Amazon page, where her books can also be purchased, and follow her on Instagram

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Categories: Author Interview

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