• Shea Robinson

New! Author Interview with Dr. Anniqua Rana, Wild Boar in the Cane Field Book Review

Updated: Mar 23

Category: Snow Flower-a story that takes you on a journey

Genre: Fiction

I didn’t know it when the new year started, but I wanted woman-centered stories to be the theme of January’s book reviews. Women with agency. Smart, capable women who do not let their trauma impede their dreams. Women who carve out their own path through the one society has given them. Taking a page from Jasper Ffforde (see Lost in a Good Book, Book Review), I would love to see Hannah Payne (see When She Woke Book Review) and Nancy Drew (see Nancy Drew Series Book Review) sit down with Tara over a cup of tea and a plate of roti. Looking back, I think I needed a bit of courage to enter 2021. When the world is a terrifying place, like a wild boar in the cane field, I draw strength from the stories of powerful women who have gone before.

Wild Boar in the Cane Field follows the story of young Tara who, orphaned as a baby, is raised by the proprietress of a tiny village in Pakistan and her servant. Though there are strict customs regarding a woman’s life, Tara is brought up by two women who have seemingly found a loophole to live their lives by their own standards. The proprietress, Baba Saffiya, lived past her father and husband, and so is free to run her lands as she sees fit. Amman Bhaggan, though a servant, wields great power in Baba Saffiya’s house. Their shared widowhood has not condemned Baba Saffiya or Amman Bhaggan to a destitute life. With such role models, Tara learns to ask questions and to demand the promise of her dreams. Skirting religious and gender taboos, she becomes educated and forges her own path to freedom. Wild Boar in the Cane Field is an intriguing foray into Pakistan customs, culture, and people. To purchase this book, support your local, independent bookstore and check out Crawford's Books.

Read on to hear my special interview with the author, Dr. Anniqua Rana!

1. What was your favorite story as a child?

On my tenth birthday, my father gave me a hard bound collection of Russian Fairy Tales: Vasilisa the Beautiful. I loved being scared as I thought of traveling through the dark woods and coming across Baba Yaga.

2. What inspired you to start writing?

When I was 8 or 9 my mother told stories…she’d bring scraps of paper with details of the exciting stuff that she didn’t want to forget…Like many aspiring writers, I wrote journals, poems, and stories when I was in elementary school…[years later] I started to attend conferences like the Mendocino Writer’s Conference and San Francisco Writers Conference, to learn more about the profession of writing.

3. Where did the idea for Wild Boar in the Cane Field come from? Which character is your favorite?

I grew up on a farm in Punjab, Pakistan and I was very aware of the constant fear of wild animals and vermin ruining the crop…I wanted to create Tara, a strong young woman with an audacious personality. She’s my favorite, but so is her husband, who loves her without judgement.

4. If you had one piece of advice to offer aspiring authors, what would that be?

Lose yourself in the world you create and savor all the words you use. That’s two, so I’ll add a third: break the rules but know what you’re breaking and why.

5. Which author has most guided your writing today?

Elena Ferante and Orhan Pamuk are two authors that I read, and re-read, for the worlds they’ve created in Italy and Turkey, worlds that are now very familiar to me. The uniqueness of each character, for both novelists, inspires me to get to know my own characters at a deeper level.

6. Tell me about your next writing project.

My sister, Selma, and I are working on a literary memoir of our time growing up in Pakistan…Here's a bit about the book, “Seeking to understand our past, we have turned to literature as a way of excavating our stories from the ashes of our own suffocating adolescence under military rule. In The Simurgh Rises, referring to the phoenix-like bird that rises from the ashes, we have combined anecdotes with our own memories, thus drawing parallels to how our country’s history evolved. With humor and tenderness—and bleak reality—we tell the story of navigating selfhood, hybrid identities, and making sense of our place in the world.”

7. How can readers best support you?

I invite readers to engage with the stories I tell by reading my blog, and if they’re inspired, to add their story through the submission page.

You can also find Rana on her Website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Good Reads.

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