Monday, 14 December 2015

Cat interviews 'Jihadi' author: a guest post by Yusuf Toropov

I would like to welcome Yusuf Toropov to my blog today. Yusuf's book Jihadi: A Love Story is being published by Orenda Books on 24 December 2015. 

Cat interviews 'Jihadi' author
By Yusuf Toropov (and a cat)

(The following discussion was conducted by means of email, the author having been foolish enough to enlist as a beta reader a male tabby cat he met and petted several nights running on an obscure side street.)

CAT: Hi. I hope you get this. Email back if you do, please. I hear you’ve got a book coming out in February from Orenda Books in London. Is it the same one you emailed me a while back? Jihadi: A Love Story? 

YUSUF TOROPOV: Hi. Yes. That’s right.

CAT: Well, you’re in luck. I’m supposed to interview an author of some kind. I was promised a can of tuna if I’d track down a guest who’d actually written something. Are you interested?

YUSUF: OK. Count me in.

CAT: Great. Can we just conduct this via email right now? I’m supposed to turn it in tonight and I don’t really feel like going outside.

YUSUF: That’s fine.

CAT: Okay. First and foremost, why did you insist on calling me “Kitty” every time you stopped and petted me last week? Didn’t that seem just a little condescending?

CAT: Are you still there?

YUSUF: You know, I really thought you were going to ask me questions about the book. It’s about a US intelligence agent, Thelonius Liddell, who’s accused of terrorism and dies under mysterious circumstances in a secret overseas prison. I’ve been working on it for a long time. It’s my first novel. And so far, you’re a lousy interviewer.

YUSUF: Are you still there?

CAT: I did think you were going to feed me at some point. That’s why I did that little dance.

YUSUF: Anyway, there’s this cat named Child in the book …

CAT: So that cat, a fictional cat, gets a name. And I don’t. I’m “Kitty.” A female nickname, by the way. Do you realize how stereotypical it is to call a cat you’ve just met “Kitty”? Particularly a male cat? I bet you insult cats all the time. I bet you enjoy making dancing cats go hungry. Sadist.

YUSUF: No cats were harmed during the creation of this book. I promise. Now, suppose you were to ask me how I came to write Jihadi: A Love Story, which Publishers Weekly called “smart and searing”?

YUSUF: Are you still there?

YUSUF: Hello?

CAT: Yes. I’m here. Suppose I make a habit of calling you “Human Being” in this article.  Instead of giving you a name. Wouldn’t that signal a certain failure of imagination?

CAT: Are you still there?

CAT: Hello?

CAT: Are there any other cats in Jihadi: A Love Story?

CAT: Fine. How did you come to write the book?

YUSUF: One of the inspirations was the Raymond Davis affair in Pakistan. You can Google that, okay? Let’s wrap up here.

CAT:  What the hell’s that supposed to mean?

YUSUF: It means I don’t think you actually read the manuscript I emailed you.

CAT: Maybe I would have if you’d seen fit to spring for a can of freaking tuna fish, Word Boy.

YUSUF: Please. Let’s just tell people how they can preorder the book, so they can see for themselves how a cat figures into a multi-layered story that weaves an intricate path through Thelonius's nervous breakdown, his botched overseas mission, his broken marriage, and his conversion to Islam.

CAT: No.

YUSUF: Come on. I won’t call you “Kitty” again. I promise.

CAT: Well. Fine. Go ahead.

YUSUF: Thank you. Click

CAT: Just bring the tuna next time, man.

YUSUF: Maybe. If you actually open the PDF I sent.

CAT: Is this about terrorists or something? Give me something to go on.

YUSUF: It’s about extremists of various kinds. And justice. And war. And the fragility of the human mind. Yeats said, "All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions." This novel is about the process by which souls empty themselves out. Or don’t.

CAT: You’ve been watching the news too much.

YUSUF: Probably.

CAT: Okay, I’ve opened the file. Is the cat a major character?


CAT: Good. I’ll keep reading.

YUSUF: Thanks. I’ll bring an open can of tuna tonight.

About Yusuf Toropov

Yusuf Toropov is an American Muslim writer. He’s the author or co-author of a number of nonfiction books, including Shakespeare for Beginners. His full-length play An Undivided Heart was selected for a workshop production at the National Playwrights Conference, and his one-act play The Job Search was produced off-Broadway. Jihadi: A Love Story, which reached the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, is his first novel. 

Find Yusuf Toropov on Twitter - @LiteraryStriver 

1 comment:

  1. I love it. I want to be interviewed by the cat. Or a dog. Or even a goldfish. I'm not fussy! Good luck to Yusuf Toropov, Jihadi sounds great.