Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saban Carrim

Today, theSun published my interview with the novelist Sabah Carrim. She talks about her passion for writing and understanding the world.

Headline: The Need To Write

Novelist  Sabah Carrim,32, confesses she never understood people when she was growing up. Writing was her vehicle to overcome this problem. Writing helps her make sense of the human race and the world she lives in.
“Writing disconnects me from my own world and allows me to travel to a different world and see how people feel,” she says.
“Writing also helps me come out of my comfort zone. I have always been curious about people and their motivations and their intentions.
“I want to know how deep they are, how superficial they are, what kind of world they live in and what kind of conclusions they have about life.”
For the last 14 years, this Mauritius-born law graduate has made Kuala Lumpur her second home. Currently, she is a PhD student in political studies and a part-time editor.
“I have always been interested in writing since I was a child,” says Sabah.
“I wrote poetry, short stories and plays. In fact, I wrote my first play when I was eight.”
To date, Sabah has written two novels. Her first, Humeriah, was published three years ago. The book tells of a woman who is on a journey to try and find the meaning of her life.
“I began Humeriah when I was only 16,” says Sabah, but the book was only published 14 years later – in 2012.During the years in between, she kept revisiting her first manuscript and making many changes.
“I have no regrets publishing my first novel 14 years later,”
says Sabah. 
“You cannot become a philosopher when you are 21. You need to experience life first.”
She also believes that one needs a certain level of maturity before becoming a novelist. In April, Sabah produced her second novel, Semi-Apes. The story revolves around Heera, a clinical psychologist, who talks about the bleakest memories of her childhood and family life. Though both her novels focus on relationships, she explains that they are different.
“In my first book, the focus is more on the relationship between a man and a woman while my second book looks at the relationship between a child and her parents,” she explains.
Humeriah, the title character in her first book, is a suffering soul stuck in a life she doesn’t want and who is always wondering if life out there is worth pursuing, while Heera is more confident and assertive.
The other big difference is that Humeriah is written in the third person, while Semi-Apes in written in the first person. Because of that, some might assume that the latter book could be based on her own life.
“Writing in the first person is difficult, and I know the implications,” she says.
“You are bare and you are nude, and you are facing the world and the world can judge however it wants and you must be ready for its judgment.
“One person who pushed me into writing is [British Indian novelist and essayist] Salman Rushdie.
“In his book Midnight’s Children [which won the Booker
Prize in 1981], he talks about his parents.
“His father, who is an Oxford graduate, reacted badly to Salman’s depiction of him. Strangely, his mother who is not highly educated like his father, took Salman’s depiction of her well and accepted his book as a work of fiction.
“Salman has given me the courage to write. In fact, I always believe that the first few stories an author writes are always (his/ her) own stories. You have to be prepared for any kind of judgement.”
Sabah will be officially launching her book Semi-Apes this Saturday at 2pm, with a book reading and a question and-answer plus signing session, at the MPH outlet in Mid Valley Megamall.

Sabah Carrim
Her first book
Her second book

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