Place And Identity In The Work Of Sobia Khan


Sobia Khan is a British-born, Pakistani-bred writer, scholar, proud Texan and English Faculty member at Richland College in Dallas. She earned her PhD in 2014 from the University of Texas at Dallas and has published translations of Urdu poetry as well as many critically lauded short stories. Currently, Khan is finishing her first novel, Mariam, which — like much of her shorter output — deals with issues of cultural and spiritual identity and how disparate traditions often collide with provocative individual results. She contributed an intense, multicultural short story, "The Fallen," to the recently published Wings Press anthology Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song, which explores the divergent experiences of women writers in Texas and is the subject of San Antonio Book Festival panel. Khan spoke with the San Antonio Current last week about the new collection and her own personal impetus to write.

Tell me about how you got involved in writing.

Well I think that my identity, my background is integral to what I write and where my scholarly and creative endeavors focus. I was born in England, but primarily raised in Pakistan, with brief sojourns to Japan and the Middle East. But I was 18 when I moved to Dallas and if you dropped me anywhere where I was raised, I wouldn't know what to do. Dallas is my home and I identify strongly with it. I became an adult here and planted my own roots. And so my writing originates within these spaces and the complicated issues of identity that surround me as a transplanted Texan who is constantly accused of being from elsewhere. These issues of identity are the subject of much of my writing.

Place, then, is of particular importance in your writing?

It is. And that's why Her Texas was a very good fit for my work; it ties together concerns about place and identity. For me, these issues are very real and constant. People in Texas always ask me where I'm from, and when I tell them 'Dallas,' they're like 'No, but where are you really from?'

Can you tell me a bit more about the Her Texas collection?

Well the title says it all. The ownership is implicit in the title Her Texas. It's a collection of creative work that explores, in various forms, the ownerwship and identity of diverse women in Texas. There's really nothing else like it, to my knowledge.

Her Texas: Women Write About the Texas Experience

Free, 11am, Rogers Hall, Southwest School of Art, 1201 Navarro St., (210) 224-1848,