Mini Author Q&A ft Sairish Hussain

Today, we have the wonderful Sairish Hussain joining us to discuss her debut novel The Family Tree, which published February 2020 and was shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award 2020.


How long did it take to write your debut novel?

Five years from start to finish as I wrote the book as part of my Creative Writing PhD at university.


What inspired you to sit down and write The Family Tree?

I think I was inspired and angry. The Family Tree is my response to all the dehumanising portrayals of Muslims I’ve encountered in literature. I decided to write a story that reflected my life and the people that I grew up around.


What’s one thing you’d love readers to take away from your book?

That brown, Muslim, working-class northerners can also encompass the breadth of human experience, and we should see this reflected more in our books.


Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time

Probably The Fire Next Time just so I could rediscover James Baldwin and become obsessed all over again!


A meme that lives in your head rent free?

Probably the ‘this is fine’ meme of the dog drinking coffee in a burning room. I don’t think I need to explain why considering the year we’ve just had.


What is one book that you cannot wait to read in 2021?

The Khan by Saima Mir and The Blood Divide by AA Dhand 


How did you feel when you heard TFT had been shortlisted for the Costa First Book Award? (Also, congratulations on this!) 

Disbelief. Overjoyed. Humbled. 


Sairish Hussain was born and brought up in Bradford, West Yorkshire. She studied English Language and Literature at the University of Huddersfield and progressed onto an MA in Creative Writing. Sairish completed her PhD in 2019 after being awarded the university’s Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship. The Family Tree is her debut novel and she is now writing her second book.


Toggle the scroll button to switch between the stunning hardback (Feb 2020) and paperback (Nov 2020) covers of The Family Tree. Both are currently available in-store and online.

Grab a copy of The Family Tree here at Bookshop.org (and help support local Indies!) or Waterstones.

You can find Sairish Hussain on Twitter or Instagram.


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