Musharraf Ali Farooqi has composed an essay on the process of writing his novel, The Story of a Widow, forthcoming from Restless in late 2014:
It is often assumed that those who write in English would read and find inspiration in English language works. But what if Urdu, not English, is the first language of an English language writer, as it is in my case? A whole universe of literature, both modern and classical, which I read in Urdu is part of my consciousness and influences it in many ways. Another parallel universe, of foreign language works which I read in translation, informs it in a similar manner. I have not stopped reading in English but I now find myself more attracted to the stylised use of language in the English classics and mining the Urdu classical literature for vagrant twists of plot and structure.
When I read the kind blurb Mohammed Hanif wrote for The Story of a Widow, which spoke of the similarities he found in the treatment of family narrative in my novel and Jane Austen’s works, I made a mental note to read Jane Austen. I still haven’t. While I could only wonder what Jane Austen might have made of the comparison, I didn’t have to wonder about what others made of it. When I called up one of my friends to ask what she thought, she told me, “Aray baba, Jane Austen is sooo good. You don’t deserve the comparison.” The world is a very cruel place for a writer. Jealous people abound who do him all kind of spiritual harm. I told myself that I must no longer solicit further opinion from the public about that comparison. But it gives me an opportunity to speak of the one book to which The Story of a Widow owes a debt in particular, besides a lot of popular “female digests” read in my undocumented wayward youth.
Read the rest of Farooqi's piece here.