24 October 2018

Meet the 2018 Scribe Nonfiction Prize Shortlist – Adalya Nash Hussein

Adalya Nash Hussein, 22, VIC


How did you begin writing?

Unfortunately, I was one of those kids who defined themselves by being into reading and writing—mostly really cliché stories about magic children that just so happened to look like me, and angsty teens that just so happened to like the same music I did.

I started writing with intention vs as a personality trait mostly to express the deep rages whose directions and inflections were difficult to untangle in my head.

Why do you write nonfiction?

Writing for me is a process as well as a product. A lot of my more personal work comes from compulsively writing about difficult thoughts and experiences in ways I don’t necessarily completely believe or feel comfortable saying, and then reading back and editing to try and understand what’s true. Drawing on other writing, research and found texts often helps me feel safer and more legitimate in framing my experiences within a wider world.

Also I don’t know how to write fiction.

Tell us a bit about your submission to the Scribe Prize:

‘Reading’ tries to understand my experience as a part-White Pakistani-Muslim via a constellation of interactions, family histories and Goodreads reviews.

Why did you choose to write on this subject?

The post-colonial theorist Homi Bhaba describes hybridity as both a ‘sign of the productivity of colonial power’ and something that ‘reverses the effects of the colonialist disavowal’. I will probably never stop processing this contradiction and what it means to me.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

The most influential writing advisor I’ve had would probably be Maria Tumarkin, but her difficult, kind and intensely thoughtful approach to nonfiction isn’t easily distilled into something quippy. So, I guess I would say read Maria Tumarkin!