Interview with KashmirInk Magazine


"Shama Naqushbandi was born in London in 1983 to parents of Kashmiri heritage. After graduating from Clare College, Cambridge University, she joined one of the world’s premier international law firms and has since been working in the city. In the summer of 2011, Shama took a sabbatical to write The White House, her first book which won the 'Best Novel' in the Brit Writers' Awards, 2012. 

Shama was recently in Srinagar and spoke about her book that reflects on the idea of home and juggling between multiple identities and cultures.

You were recently in Kashmir and also did a small book reading in a cafe in Srinagar. Tell us about your novel and how you came to write it?

Yes, it was a real pleasure to have such an opportunity. I’d describe The White House as a coming of age story about trying to find home in the 21st century. It is told through the lens of the narrator, Liyana, a character born in England but of Kashmiri heritage, who juggles multiple identities, and it is about her journey through different cultures, places, times and ultimately even people to try to find her place in the world. I wrote The White House because I felt it was a story that needed to be told and one that is very important and relevant for our time. With all the advances in technology, communication, travel and globalisation, I believe the subject of identity has become increasingly complex. Whether we like it or not, we are exposed to so much more in today’s world and this presents challenges when it comes to concepts of home. This is why Liyana’s odyssey is universal and her story resonates with everyone because it is a tale about wanting to belong and find love in a fundamentally broken world, a world that constantly divides, reduces and demands us to choose allegiances even when the very modes of categorisation fall short of the realities they try to contain. I also think the female perspective shines a different spotlight on the diaspora experience, because it is a voice that is often not heard ...  [to continue click link to full article here]"

In conversation with Riyaz Wani for Tehelka Magazine


"One man’s Kashmir might be another man’s South Africa or Syria, China or Colombia or anywhere else in the world. I wanted to move away from the narrow lens of nationhood to aspire towards something more befitting of the realities of our interconnected world. The conflict and politics of Kashmir are reinterpreted and made more personal and intimate – and ultimately, I hope, more human and universal. I wanted to create a story that transcends national barriers and encourages people to see beyond. What has really touched me has been the overwhelmingly positive reaction that my book has received from people of all sorts of different cultural backgrounds, Kashmiri as well as non-Kashmiri. This is a story about our world and the fact that a British Kashmiri can reach out with her story and can still connect with people of different walks of life from continents all across the globe I think is testament to the way the world is and should be heading today [to continue click link to full article here]"



Come to the Valley of Roses, Apple Trees and Corpses - published in the wire, india & dawn newspaper, pakistan

First Published in The Wire, India (shared almost 4,000 times in the first few days). Click link below:

Republished in Dawn, Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English language newspaper. Click link below:


"I have been visiting Kashmir since my childhood. Over the years, the valley has taught me many hard lessons about the world. With my early trips to Kashmir, the terrain between history and reality blurred. It was the first time I realised that tragedy was not a foreign country. Its proximity was too intimate and too intense for me to ever return home again to that feeling of comfortable distance. I learnt how most of the world’s greatest crimes are executed without fuss in darkness and silence. I learnt that pain can bleed into the most beautiful things and great horrors are inflicted in the name of flags. I discovered that childhood is not always innocent, that news is not always the news, justice is never passive, laws aren’t always intended to protect, just as terrorists are not always terrorists and freedom fighters are not always freedom fighters.

Though I have travelled all over the world, I keep returning to the Valley. Sometimes I ask myself why. In spite of the many forces that vie to possess it, for me Kashmir endures as one of the most wretchedly forsaken places in the world. Though fiercely desired, the people remain monumentally unloved. Perhaps that is why I love the valley so much. Approximately 135 km long and 32 km wide, it is the site of the world’s largest and most intransigent conflicts. There are no exact figures of the dead, but by any account they number in the tens of thousands, whether a low estimate of about 20,000 by the Indian government to around 100,000 by those living there. Thousands are simply missing, many more displaced or exiled. Few know much about the lives of the soft-spoken people that dwell there, where curfews, torture, rape, detention without charge, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and mass graves have simply fallen into a way of life. In Kashmir, there are no hydrocarbons or diamonds buried in the soil, just roses and apple trees. And corpses. [to continue click link to full article here]"