Pakistani Authoress Wins Accolades
By Maliha Masood

Disillusioned with her nine to five existence as a Seattle dot-commer, Maliha Masood needed a fresh lease on life. So she submitted her letter of resignation and decided to embark upon an open-ended journey. Unsure of where she would go or when she would return, she bought a one-way ticket to Paris. After traveling around Europe for six months, Masood felt herself drawn to the Middle East and arrived in Cairo at the height of Israeli/Palestinian tension in September 2000.
Fueled by curiosity and unbridled wanderlust, Pakistani-born Masood ventured on a yearlong expedition through Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. Part travel memoir, part cultural commentary, Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations Across the Middle East (Seal Press/February 2007/$15.95), chronicles a behind the scenes look at the world's most newsworthy region. Transitioning from professional cog to adventuress, Masood recounts the pleasures of an impromptu picnic with a Kurdish family and the uncanny sound of silence in the Sahara. She befriends a cross-dressing couple in the streets of Damascus, convenes with Sufi mystics and gets mistaken for a spy in the mountains of Turkey. Navigating the duality between her Islamic roots and Western culture, Masood offers insights and entertainment in the hearts and minds debate as someone who belongs on both sides. She also speaks to the experience of a Muslim female traveler adrift in the Arab world with "no alibi other than raw will power and madness."
After a year and a half on the road, Masood culminated her journey in Istanbul, satisfied with her "spiritual warfare." She returned to Seattle just ten days prior to the events of September 11. Having experienced up-close the culture, people and politics of the Middle East, Masood found a new objective. Now, instead of having all the answers, she would simply seek to ask better questions. With beautifully-crafted language, Zaatar Days, Henna Nights will invite the reader to share in the intimate experience of one woman's quest for self-discovery that would lead half way across the world, but somehow remain strangely close to home.
Born in Karachi , Maliha Masood came to the States at the age of twelve and grew up in Seattle, WA. Fluent in her native Urdu, Arabic and French, she studied International Business at the University of Washington and worked as a research analyst in the IT sector. An award-winning writer in creative non-fiction, Maliha's essays and commentaries on women, culture and Islam have been featured in Al-Ahram Weekly, Asia Times and the anthologies Voices of Resistance, Waking up American and Bare Your Soul: A Thinking Girl's Guide to Spirituality. Maliha also appeared in and co-wrote the PBS aired documentary Nazrah: A Muslim Woman's Perspective.
An avid public speaker, she is the founder and president of Diwaan, an Islamic cultural institute geared towards interfaith dialogue. Maliha earned her Master's in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University in Medford, MA in May 2004. She has worked in Pakistan at the International Crisis Group and the Human Rights Commission before moving back to the Pacific Northwest.
Zaatar Days, Henna Nights Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations Across the Middle East
Publication Date: February 2007
Published by Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group, Inc.
$15.95/300 pages
ISBN 1-58005-192-8

 

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