Born in Bangladesh, Dilruba Z. Ara was nurtured on Greek mythology by her father, as well as hearing Indian fairy tales as bedtime stories from her mother. She had her first story published at the young age of eight. While in university at the age of 20, she met and married her husband, a Swedish Air Force officer, and moved to Sweden, where she obtained degrees in English, Swedish, Classical Arabic and linguistics.
Now a teacher of Swedish and English in Sweden, she is also an accomplished, exhibited artist; her paintings have been used as the covers for the Bangladeshi, Greek, and U.S. editions of A List of Offences.
Readers can learn more about Dilruba Z. Ara and her work by visiting the following links:
If you had to describe your book in two sentences, what would they be?
It’s a story of Daria, a Bengali girl, whose life reflects the life of numerous girls and women living in different parts of the subcontinent who are constantly shamed, coerced, and controlled by their near ones. Daria is born under unusual circumstances, and (therefore) has to find a different path for herself.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your current work?
Be a good wife.
Please your husband!
Give him a child.
Obey him! Obey your parents-in-law!
Don’t disgrace your parents.
Say your prayers.
What are five important things that you take into consideration while writing your story?
Unusual characters, a good storyline, humor, social issues, and settings.
Why should readers pick up your book?
Because it will introduce them to an unfamiliar country, traditions, and culture, and it will remind them of the fact that are many girls and women who are even today dominated by family oppression. But, it remains, I hope a beautiful story they will find worth reading.
What was the turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your voice with the world?
I had written since I was a child. My very first story was also about a girl, who gives away her best frock to a beggar child. This present novel I decided to write when one of my friends had been married off by force, and when Fadime, a Kurdish girl, was killed in Sweden in the name of family honor.
What genres do you prefer to read? Which do you enjoy writing in?
Literary fiction, classics, poems, drama and I also enjoy well-written thrillers (e.g. P.D. James). I write poems and stories, and I have written dramas for my teenage students. I would like to write a fast-paced book for young adults.
What five things would you have with you at all times if you had to be prepared to take a trip at the drop of a hat?
My laptop, a notebook, a pen, my Visa card, and my passport.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
I would like to get all small children off the street in Dhaka and shelter them in an orphanage. Because it’s a question of taking and sharing responsibility.
What footprint do you want to leave behind in this world?
I would like to leave the world as a place where everyone is allowed to lead a life of their own choice.