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Monday, January 26, 2009

Sheela Reddy on Daniyal Mueenuddin

A former lawyer practising in the US, Daniyal's career as a writer is fairly recent. He didn't start writing fiction seriously till he joined a Master of Fine Arts course at Arizona University in 2002. "The first of these stories was written while I was doing my Master's, in 2003."

Before that, Daniyal dreamt of becoming a poet someday
. That was in fact why he first decided to live on the farm 20 years ago. His father, by then an old man, told him: "Look, if you want to hold on to this land, you'll have to go there, because it's a total mess." Daniyal did just that, moving there after his graduation from a Massachusetts college in 1987. He spent six years on the farm on his first stint, combining farming with writing poetry. "You hear of all these people who go to live on their farms and then go bananas because there's nothing to do other than farming. But it worked very well for me," he says. "From the very beginning, I wrote every morning, and I had a huge library, so I read a lot. The practice of farming was good and that's where I ultimately got my stories."

But eventually the budding poet decided to return to America "before I became completely junglee". His plan was to find himself another profession "because poets don't make money". So he joined Yale Law School. "I thought I'd come back to Pakistan after I graduated and get a job with a humanitarian organisation, and continue writing poetry."


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