Associate Professor of Fiction Writing
She is the author of four novels, translated worldwide to critical acclaim. These include Trespassing, nominated for the Commonwealth Prize in 2003; The Geometry of God, a Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2009, and winner of the bronze award at the Independent Book Publishers Award; and Thinner than Skin, nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2014. In 2018, her short fiction won and was nominated for awards in Zoetrope: All Story, and Calyx A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta and The Massachusetts Review, and is forthcoming in Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose and Calyx. Uzma has also written non-fiction for the Guardian, Counterpunch, Drawbridge, Herald and Dawn, among other national and international periodicals and journals, on a range of topics that include women and the arts, U.S. foreign policy, and orientalism, particularly in representations of Muslim women.
Uzma’s fifth novel, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali, is forthcoming in 2019. Set in the British penal colony of the Andaman Islands during the 1930s, through the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, the book, twenty-seven years in the making, writes into being the stories of people caught in the vortex of history, yet written out of it. These include women prisoners––who were also transported to the prison colony, but have merited scarcely a footnote in the material written on British and Japanese rule of the islands––and the descendants of prisoners. Central to the novel, then, is the question of whose history we believe, and whose we erase. The question is central also to Uzma’s teaching. Her courses offer a global perspective on creative writing and literature, existing at the intersection of history, politics, art, religion, science, and the natural world, with an emphasis on marginalized communities displaced by colonialism and war.
Uzma has taught in Morocco, Pakistan, and Hawai’i. She joined Hampshire College in Fall 2012.
This is a creative writing workshop in which students will read and create comics in the non-fiction genre, that is, comics that are autobiographical and/or rooted in contemporary issues, such as immigrant narratives. Because comics are primarily a visual medium, as much time will be spent considering the visual and artistic choices of the creators as discussing the stories' thematic elements. The same is true for your work-you will be writing and drawing pictures, and your work will be workshopped both for its visual and written inventiveness. It doesn't matter if you can't draw well! Lots of "professional" comics artists are limited in their visual skills. What matters is that you learn to see what these artists are doing, through trying it yourself. In other words, what matters is your devotion to a steady learning practice. In addition to creating comics, course requirements will include keeping up with the reading, regular attendance, in-class presentations and participation, and a thorough commitment to the work of your peers. Please note: This class is not suited to students with an interest in superhero comics. Though superhero comics continue to dominate the form, NO superhero comics will be read, accepted, or workshopped in this class. We will instead read works that might include: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Freedom Hospital by Hamad Sulaiman, Munnu by Malik Sajad, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, and/or Paying the Land by Joe Sacco. (keywords: comics, drawing, creative writing)
This is an intermediate to advanced creative writing workshop with a focus on writing closely and observing the natural world, particularly-though not exclusively-the realm of birds. Both fiction and creative non-fiction will be written and read, with the purpose of more intimately understanding what it means to have an 'environmental imagination,' local and global. Students may also be asked to incorporate research into their projects, as a way to practice humility and embrace writing as an uncertain exercise in 'failing better each time.' To this end, students will be expected to fully embrace the revision process. The course is ideal for those with a love of both the sciences and the arts, though it is also ideal for those who may not know it. Students are also invited to bring to our class material (written or visual) that has challenged how you think about birds and nature. It can be as short as a paragraph. Though the course is not by instructor permission, students MUST attend the first class in order to keep their seats. (keywords: creative writing workshop, nature writing)
From Huckleberry Finn to Catcher in the Rye, the world is rich in stories that depict loveable young men resisting entrenched societal norms. But where are the loveable women and gender non-conformists, young and old, and of color? Our course will look at those living under silencing, societal constraints, both in the West and East, who, denied the same liberties as the dominant group that creates the boundaries, in one way or another become 'runaways,' often simply by claiming their fundamental worth. This is a hybrid course that will ask for creative writing and possibly one analytical essay. We will read fiction and non-fiction, across styles and genres: surrealism, historical fiction, memoir, comics, and more. This course is by instructor permission. NOTE: All students MUST attend the first day of class to ensure a seat.
This is an intermediate creative writing course that explores narrative structure. The focus will be on works (mostly fiction, but also non-fiction) that have pushed the boundaries of conventional "girders" by using as building materials visuals, verse, and radical space/time-shifts, all while maintaining a clear cohesive whole. Course requirements will include reading international and national books (which may include novellas and comics); in-class presentations; critical response papers on the readings; original works of creative writing in which you will be expected to explore some of the narrative shapes covered in this course. Students may find the course particularly suited for those with an interest in the long form, as their narratives grow interconnected in some way (perhaps with the creation of one overall piece comprised of individual elements, or chapters). However, our focus will be on generating new work that explores the techniques in this course, both in a historical and contemporary setting. NOTE: While the course is not by instructor permission, all students, including those on the waitlist, MUST attend the first day of class in order to keep their seat.