News and Interviews

The Dirty Dozen, with Safia Fazlul

The Harem (TSAR Publications) is Safia Fazlul's literary debut. The book tells the story of Farina, a young woman who, in her desperation to escape her strict household, finds herself caught up in a confusing world of escort agencies.

In Safia's edition of our Dirty Dozen series, an interview which asks writers to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves, you'll find a dangerous bunny, an ironic punishment for skipping school and a disastrous follicle experiment.

  1. I’m a textbook Cancer: very moody and overly sentimental.
  2. I have an abnormal fear of dogs and cats, but because I love animals I adopted Bernie Fazlul — my adorable bunny. Ironically, he nearly bit my pinkie finger off and sent my sister to the hospital with open wounds.
  3. I visited Bangladesh in 2007 and nearly died of food poisoning. Some local villagers claimed a snake had cursed me and the only way to reverse it was to form a circle and breathe on me continuously. They must have done something right because I’m alive today!
  4. I’m very picky about what TV shows and movies I watch. I won’t go to the movie theatres unless my friends force me.
  5. I’m almost always thinking about death, the afterlife, ghosts and God.
  6. I hated high school and used to skip all the time. I was both happy and confused when I was suspended for skipping — how is making someone stay home when they want to stay home a punishment?
  7. I really, really enjoy watching Jerry Springer.
  8. I can kick anybody’s butt in Scrabble — yes, I’m challenging you.
  9. In high school, I decided to go platinum blonde. Well, I tried to go platinum blonde. Of course I couldn’t afford a hair stylist at age 14 so I bought a pack of cheap peroxide from the local grocery store and left it in my jet-black hair for an hour. For about 20 minutes — the time it took for my parents to drag me to a salon — my hair was a sexy bright orange.
  10. I absolutely can’t write during daytime. My best writing comes out between midnight and sunrise.
  11. I collect shiny coins, Kinder egg toys and coloured pop can tabs.
  12. I’m a bit obsessed with my teeth. If I don’t floss first thing in the morning, I feel dirty for the rest of the day.

The Harem

Safia Fazlul is of Bangladeshi background, was raised in Scandinavia and now
lives in Toronto, where she attends the University of Toronto. When she was eighteen she found work as a “phone girl” for a high-end escort agency, an experience that inspired The Harem.

For more information about The Harem please visit the TSAR Publications website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.