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Tariq Malik on Chanting Denied Shores

Chanting Denied Shores by Tariq MalikAbout Chanting Denied Shores:

BCB: What do you think readers will find most notable about your novel?

Tariq Malik: Chanting Denied Shores is set against the racially charged background of discordant voices from an unshakeable past. It is a wrenching and inspiring first novel that illuminates a watershed incident of Canadian history largely forgotten outside the South Asian community. The incident may have taken place nearly a century ago, but the Komagata Maru debacle still continues to resonate today as a rallying cry whenever a racial wrong is seen against any community.

Readers may also find it fascinating that it was on the Pacific Coast that the earliest concepts of a secular and democratic India emerged. And, as a corollary, it was also here that the Indian independence movement first coalesced before gathering sufficient momentum to achieve independence from the British in India.

BCB: Have you acquired any good anecdotes surrounding the Komagata Maru incident? If so, could you share one?

Tariq Malik: In unravelling the complex narratives of the Komagata Maru, I stumbled upon the fascinating revelation that five of the expelled passengers onboard the ship’s return voyage to India were able to jump ship in Yokohama and then sail for Mexico. From there they travelled to San Francisco and reached as far north as Calgary. In order to avoid arrest, they then walked the railway tracks from Calgary to eventually reach Vancouver barely ahead of the onset of winter.

BCB: Did researching and writing Chanting Denied Shores teach you anything or influence your thinking in any way?

Tariq Malik: In my first book Rainsongs of Kotli I had already had to hone my skills at teasing out forgotten or hidden threads of the historical narratives of the Indian Partition. But in writing Chanting Denied Shores I found myself repeatedly being misled by the fabricated life histories of a few very illusive historical characters. As an example, one of the main protagonists at the heart of the Komagata Maru debacle was a Canadian immigration official named WC Hopkinson who also lived a double life as an undercover intelligence officer. In the surviving records of the time his personal history has been ‘muddied’ by various interested parties in order to present Hopkinson as a Canadian hero, and his family history had been fabricated to present his lineage in a more heroic light.

Another interesting aspect of the experience of delivering this narrative into the readers’ hands was the discovery of how difficult it was to get this material published locally. I soon learnt that there are some subjects that are still considered taboo or controversial and ‘inappropriate’ for wider dissemination. This was one of the reasons why I had to find a publisher outside BC.

BCB: What would you most like readers to tell others about Chanting Denied Shores?

Tariq Malik: That it has a dramatic physicality of time and place in its visual recreation of pre-war Vancouver and its characters, and that it is worth the trip.

BCB: Is there a character in Chanting Denied Shores that you really enjoyed or found challenging in bringing to life?

Tariq Malik: I think the conflicted character of Hopkinson was the most challenging for me as the dramatic facts of his real life already read like a novel, and I had to find ways of making him believable as an integral part of the narratives.

BCB: Can you suggest one question readers might find interesting to discuss, concerning you, your writing in general, or Chanting Denied Shores?

Tariq Malik: How far have our attitudes towards race and immigration shifted from persecution to acceptance, and how willing are we to test the limits of our acceptance or moral outrage?

BCB: How can readers help you promote this book?

Tariq Malik: After reading Chanting Denied Shores you can continue your involvement with the narratives by digging deeper into the background history of the Komagata Maru and then educate others.

Word of mouth is still the most effective means of promotion. Posting your views about the book at my website, on online forums, blogs, and at the Amazon sites will greatly help spread the word. And, encourage your favourite local bookstores to stock the book.

Photo of author Tariq MalikAbout You:

BCB: Why do you write?

Tariq Malik: I unabashedly feel compelled to examine our modern lives through the lens of historical fictions. In essence, I write to educate and to entertain. Writing is also a means for me to untangle my subjective experience of this world, and to lay down the music of my bones. I have also taken to heart writer Annie Dillard’s advice: ‘Experienced writers urge young men and women to learn a useful trade’, and aside from my writing I have continued to work as an industrial quality manager.

BCB: What is your greatest strength as a writer?

Tariq Malik: I am able to vividly imagine places, events, characters and social attitudes from other times, and find sufficient resonance in their ethos to hold the attention of today’s inquisitive, receptive readers.

BCB: What qualities do you most value in yourself?

Tariq Malik: Personal integrity and a vivid imagination.

BCB: In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

Tariq Malik: The welfare of my family; the inspiration of natural landscapes, and using the landscape as art; all manner of abstract textural explorations; fusion world music; moral implications of social and ecological change, etc.

BCB: What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

Tariq Malik: I am proud of my wife and I having raised our two children as conscientious, inquisitive and caring individuals; of my having survived two decades of ‘virtual slavery’ in Kuwait, and of our resilience in successfully meeting life’s challenges even when it has repeatedly meant beginning from scratch.

BCB: Is there any new or established author whom you feel deserves more attention, and what is it that strikes you about his or her work?

Tariq Malik: The works of Canadian poet Chris Levenson – his inspired, illuminating verse deserves a wider audience than the one it has so far found. And, Canadian ethnographer Sultan Somjee’s forth-coming novel: Splendours Of Dawn In My English Suitcase, about the fascinating interactions of the resilient African-Asian Bead-bais and the Masai cultures.

BCB: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made, and why?

Tariq Malik: This one is easy: Moving to Canada. I spent the early part of my life amidst the political tumult of Pakistan under successively repressive governments, and later life in Kuwait (1975-95) proved to be no different. Before moving here I had already spent several decades watching in slo-mo the moral and social decay that corruption, bureaucratic bungling and theocracies inflict upon their subjects. And, I had already lived through three wars. For my family, and me some form of stability has been long overdue.

Please visit my website at www.tariqmalik.net and email me any comments you may have, or post them here to begin a discussion.

Tags: historical fiction, literary fiction, multicultural, indo canadian history

Short URL: http://www.bookclubbuddy.com/?p=1793

Posted by Pearl on Jan 5 2011. Filed under Author Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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