From Our Soundbooth | November 24, 2021

Hello and welcome to Aud-cast #34, the podcast featuring finalists for the 2021 Miller Audio Prize from the Missouri Review. Good thing you’re here: for our latest Audio Documentary finalist we have Tazeen Zahida and her interview of the novelist Bapsi Sidhwa, recorded first for the interview series “Pass-e-Aaina,” which translates to “The Person Behind the Persona.”

Born in Karachi and raised in Saudi Arabia, poetry and literature played a major role in Zahida’s upbringing. She grew up immersed in the writings of Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz, Shakespeare, and Shaw. She eventually found her voice in playwriting. An unapologetic bilingual, she writes plays both in English and Urdu. Tazeen’s work is inspired by current affairs, social issues, family dynamics, and her experiences of living in the Middle East and America. Her work aims to represent the unrepresented and tell the untold stories in an authentic manner. That work has been commissioned by The Society for Performing Arts Houston (SPA) and Silicon Valley Shakespeare, and she works under the banner of her company Tee Zee Productions.

“The Person Behind the Persona” is an interview series that shines a light on South Asian women who have inspired a number of generations through their tireless efforts to better the world. Trying to discover the person behind the persona, these interviews aim to explore the lives and the careers of these incredible women. This interview was the first of the series.

As Zahida writes,

Bapsi Sidhwa represents all the old school values that we so fondly reminisce about. From the way she dresses up, to the way she conducts herself and the way she guides aspiring writers. Like all great people, she has this aura that makes you want to be at your best when you find yourself in her gracious company. Bapsi as a person is defined by compassion, while Bapsi as a writer is defined by fearlessness of expression. These two traits are evident in her heartfelt accounts of human suffering and triumph. I continue to be in awe of her, not only as a great writer as well as a person.

Stick around after the interview to hear Bailey Boyd and Marc McKee discuss the interview and reflect on and continue the valuable conversations about the specific insights and wisdom therein, and the importance of interviews like this in general.

Thanks as always to Patricia Miller, for her generous support for the Miller Audio Prize.

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