Haris A. Durrani talks with academic and fellow storyteller Sahar Ullah (Columbia University, Hijabi Monologues) about Muslims and Latinos in literature, genre fiction, and his debut book, Technologies of the Self, winner of the 2015 Driftless Novella Prize from Brain Mill Press. There will be Q&A and book signing.
In this timely and instantly notable fiction debut, Haris A. Durrani immerses readers in the life of a young American Muslim struggling to understand himself in the context of his family, classmates, and contemporary urban life. Engineering student Jihad, or “Joe” as he introduces himself in the confusing intersections of post 9/11 New York City, finds himself on a personal quest of possibly a spiritual nature, even if he isn’t sure that’s what it is – after all, it’s hard enough to keep halal in his Dominican-Pakistani-Muslim Washington Heights household. He’s surprised to find himself in the stories his Uncle Tomás tells of his own youth, stories in which Tomás fights both the devil and the weaknesses of the flesh – often at the same time. Culture, nation, religion, family, identity, race, and time fight for dominion over Jihad until he realizes he is facing the same demon his uncle claims to have defeated, and all Jihad has to fight with is himself.
Praise for Technologies of the Self:
"In the tradition of Junot Díaz, Durrani offers a rare peek into the rich, often surprising, cultural complexities of being Latino and Muslim in post 9/11 America, an inimitable novella about wrestling with identity where the costs couldn’t be higher. Funny, original, and wonderfully written, Technologies of the Self will keep you turning pages and leave you impressed." - Murad Kalam, author of Night Journey
"Haris Durrani's wonderful tale is as much about family, jobs, friends and growing up as it is about demons, time travel, and God--and that's as it should be. Rich, humane, funny and outlandish, it presages a great career for a young writer with lavish gifts and a generous spirit." -- John Crowley, author of Little, Big
“Technologies of the Self is brave and ruthless, gorgeous, and delicious. It is really magical and magically real: an unfiltered, unapologetic, and unforgettable narrative.” – Daniel José Older, author of Shadowshaper and the Bone Street Rumba series
"A confident, wildly inventive debut, not to mention fizzy and fun and funny as hell - one of the best I have read in a long time." -- H.M. Naqvi, author of Home Boy
"Haris Durrani's debut is both a quirky coming-of-age story and a meditation on the technologies we use to make ourselves: immigration, religious conversion, science fiction, sex. It's so true to mixed experience, it feels defiant." – Sofia Samatar, winner of the World Fantasy Award
“A subtle and controlled gaze at the contemporary coming-of-age that trusts the reader to travel across time and science. Prerequisites in demonology and philosophy not required but are recommended. This is the kind of yes-yes world-embracing story-telling to challenge plastic realism and announce a writer.” – Ali Eteraz, author of Native Believer
"Beautifully written, eloquent, Mr. Durrani's novella evokes time travel in the only way we can make sense of it--through memory. The book is thick with images that rise up larger than themselves, stronger than themselves, softer than themselves." - Paul Park, author of Princess of Roumania
“Fantastic, taut, lyrical, funny, and vivid—a family history of faith, time travel, and selfhood in the face of saints and demons.” – Max Gladstone, author of Last First Snow