"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]"