'I told myself I would write 500 words a day, every day, and I wouldn’t try to edit myself or be too concerned with the quality or beauty of the prose at the time…It’s easier to fix a big chunk of something compared to having nothing written'
Emerging author Arif Anwar, who was born in Chittagong and currently lives in Toronto, Canada, has been featured on New York Times Book Review for his debut novel “The Storm.”
The novel has been making waves on the literary scene, being described as “a remarkable debut, in which fiction vividly portrays specific events in history” by Booklist, as well as a “story of our time” by Library Journal.
Inspired by the Bhola cyclone in 1970, “The Storm” weaves together five interconnected narratives, including that of a young father and PhD student who must leave the US after the expiry of his visa, a Japanese pilot, and a British doctor stationed in Burma during World War II.
The novel has received accolades for its unique structure, mimicking a cyclone as it builds to a series of climaxes. Love, betrayal, honour and sacrifice are some of the central themes which “The Storm” explores.
“At once grounded in history and fantastically imaginative, The Storm explores the humanity that connects us beyond the surface differences of race, religion, and nationality,” said a review on book review website Simon & Schuster.
Speaking to CBC, Anwar described the lengthy process of writing the novel.
“The Storm’s opening chapter was actually part of another novel I was writing at the time. I wrote 400 pages that I later abandoned because it wasn’t going anywhere. But that one chapter resonated so much with the people in the creative writing class that I was taking that I started thinking about how I could envision a novel based specifically around the character and events from that chapter,” Arif said, as quoted by CBC.
He also spoke of his struggle to overcome procrastination and writer’s block, eventually setting a daily word count target for himself.
“I told myself I would write 500 words a day, every day, and I wouldn’t try to edit myself or be too concerned with the quality or beauty of the prose at the time…It’s easier to fix a big chunk of something compared to having nothing written,” he added.
A detailed review of “The Storm” will be featured on the next issue of Dhaka Tribune’s Arts and Letters.