In conversation with novelist Zia Haider Rahman

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Puja Bhattacharjee | April 14, 2015


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Born in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Zia Haider Rahman moved to London as a baby soon after the 1971 Bangladesh war of liberation. In London, his father, a bus conductor and waiter, and mother, a seamstress, struggled to make ends meet during his growing-up years. He studied at Balliol College of Oxford University and pursued further studies in Germany and at Cambridge and Yale universities. He has worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs, as a corporate and human rights lawyer and has been associated with Transparency International. His debut novel, In the Light of What We Know, was published in 2014 to great critical acclaim. Excerpts:


The book I am reading right now: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

First thing I do after getting up in the morning: Drink coffee

My favourite pastime: Daydreaming about lever mechanisms. I am trying to devise a way to make expanding tables cheaper

My fitness regime includes: Walking

My greatest challenge so far: Surviving childhood poverty

My advice to the young generation: Before you decide to commit to a goal, try to do some research to find out what it involves in practical terms. Many jobs involve status and cash but the reality may be different from your expectations

My favourite vacation spot: I don’t take vacations

My comfort food: Dal bhaat

I want to be remembered as: I do not aspire to be remembered by anyone other than the woman I love

Had I not been a writer I would have been: A craftsman of buildings, renovating houses or making furniture

My passion: Writing

(The interview appears in the April 1-15, 2015, issue)

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