This week we feature the current favorites and obsessions of Shoaib Alam, who moved back home with his parents last month, took over his sister’s old room, and promptly threw out all her things. Before this, he studied creative writing at Colorado State University and was associate editor at Colorado Review. Now, he works for a nonprofit in Dhaka and is writing a collection of short stories titled City of Mosques. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wasafiri, Reader’s Digest, Bengal Lights, and Kenyon Review Online.
Winter is the season for weddings here, which used to mean biryani, borhani, and obese cats that prowled community centers with swishing tails and jaded side eyes. To my horror, people are throwing weddings these days where there is no biryani to be had but sheermal, chicken tikka, and all manner of offensive inedibles like potato salad. A part of me dies at every wedding for this very reason, so I’m leading the movement to #BringBackOurBiryani.
2. Twilight and f.lux
I haven’t slept soundly since 2003. When my editor at Colorado Review told me blue light hinders sleep, I scrambled to add free apps that would change the hue of my screens as the day turns to night. My phone is running Twilight, a screen-tinting app, and my computer has something called f.lux. I quite like both. Do they work? I’m not entirely sure. At the very least, my screens now remind me to get off Facebook and into bed by turning an absurd shade of orange every night.
3. Tarfia Faizullah’s poetry
Faizullah’s first book Seam is a heartbreaking reminder of South Asia’s many self-mutilations, in this case the birangona, Bangladeshi women systematically raped by soldiers during the country’s liberation from Pakistani rule. Structured around real interviews, even the titles of the poems remind us of the horror of human violence, as well as the ethics of interviewing those who survive. One poem is titled “Interview with a Birangona: 1. What were you doing when they came for you?,” another “Instructions for the Interviewer.” This is a slim collection but I’m taking my time to read and re-read.
4. Aamer Rahman
In the age of Trumpageddon, Aamer Rahman is a comedian we’ll need to hear more from. Rahman is sharp, witty, and, appropriately enough, one-half of a comedy duo called “Fear of a Brown Planet,” along with fellow Australian comic, Nazeem Hussain. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to see him live at some point. If the world implodes before that, at least we’ll all go down laughing at his YouTube videos.
5. The ACLU
Given the recent weeks we’ve had, I’ve never been more grateful for the ACLU and the legions of lawyers who showed up at airports across America and worked through the night. Bravo!