The themes in your writing (drugs, immigration, wars) are not the trending topic in young adult literature. Why do you think it is important that youth literature also cover issues such as drugs, immigration or war?
Regarding your question about the themes of my books - drugs, immigration, wars. I really have only one theme, and that is courage. Courage is a choice, and somedays we are able to make the choice to have courage and some days we don't make that choice. I am fascinated by how we make the choice about whether to act with courage or not. We are faced with that choice many times in our lives. The background to the stories is chosen because I don't like things that don't make sense, and war, addictions, leprosy, injustice, do not make sense because they happen because of human choice and we can learn how to make better choices.
You have received many prizes for your books. In 2000, you received Governor General's Award for Looking for X; in 2003, Jane Addams Book Award for The Journey of Parvana and, more recently, again the prize Jane Addams Book Award Special Commendation for the trilogy The Breadwinner. Have these awards served to publicize your writing and reach more readers?
I've been very lucky and am very grateful to have received awards for my writing. One of the great benefits of awards is that they have given me confidence to keep going when the work gets difficult.
How did you inspire yourself to write the character of Parvana in The Breadwinner, one of your most famous novels? Is she based on a real person?
The characters in The Breadwinner books are made-up, but they are based on many of the people and many of the stories I heard in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.
When you finish reading The Breadwinner, nothing indicates you that it is the first book of a trilogy. Why did you continue the story of that girl in the book Parvana's Journey?
I continued Parvana's and Shauzia's stories in Parvana's Journey and in Mud City because I was curious about what would happen to each of them after they went their separate ways. I have gone a step further, and written a fourth book in the series. It will be published in Canada in September of this year. It is called My Name Is Parvana.
One of your books, not translated into Spanish yet, is the short story collection Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories, which deals with drugs’ theme, from different perspectives. Usually, novel seems to be your genre of choice. Why did you decide on the short stories in this particular book?
Lunch With Lenin came about because everywhere I travel, I hear stories of kids whose lives have been affected by addictions and the illegal drug trade. I wanted to highlight as many of those situations as possible, which is why I did a short story collection. Plus, there is a different challenge to writing short stories than there is in a novel, and it's always good to have a new challenge.
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