Of Necessity & Wanting is Sascha Akhtar’s debut fiction. It is set in Karachi and is available from Liberty Books, Pakistan. It was published in October 2020 by The 87 Press, London.  Sascha has authored six poetry collections. The first, The Grimoire of Grimalkin (SALT UK, 2007) was called ‘ a contemporary masterpiece,’ by the Chair of the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture at New York University, Phillip John Usher. 

She is a Poetry School London Tutor and is a judge for the Streetcake Prize for Experimental Writing. Her course Breaking Through Writer’s Block has been published by The Literary Consultancy, London as part of #BeingAWriter .

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Here is the basic Proust Questionnaire

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

For this one needs to believe in the notion of ‘perfect happiness,’ which I do not. 

What is your greatest fear?

Dying while living.

Which living person do you most admire?

I strive not to create false deities…

What is your greatest extravagance?

Kindness. I am always extravagant with kindness. 

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

‘Kindness’ not kindness, mind…

On what occasion do you lie?

When pulling my daughter’s leg & telling her I have bought ‘bags of dirt’ as a gift for her instead of what she wanted. Ha ha ha. She always knows I am lying. 

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

The world is always there to tear us down, why should we do it ourselves…

Which living person do you most despise?

Ha! That would be telling…

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Not to be so ‘manly’…

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Women who strive to go beyond stereotypes. 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Breathe… but ‘breathe,’ is never overused…

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

The Muse, whatever form s/he takes…

Which talent would you most like to have?

Tabla playing. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I have spent my whole life changing everything about myself. Perhaps I would like to change that. When are we ‘good enough’?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Finding a way somehow to do what I love. 

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I definitely do not want to think about coming back after death! 

Where would you most like to live?

In the land of sakoon. 

What is your most treasured possession?

No possession is worth treasuring… 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Not trusting yourself, disbelieving yourself, loathing yourself. 

What is your most marked characteristic?

Others say it is my enthusiasm for the creative process, especially of others. I love helping others in their writing journeys. 

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty.

Who are your favorite writers?

Gisèle Pineau, Mikhail Bulghakov, Hijab Imtiaz, David Mitchell, Mohammad Hanif, Jhumpha Lahiri, Iris Murdoch, Mishima, Aamer Hussein, Saadat Hasan Manto, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Lev Grossman aur un ke buhut sarey saathi…

Who is your hero of fiction?

I do like Claire De Witt as a female detective in the Sara Gran series. 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I have felt ‘recognition’ in the lives of historical figures of the French revolution, Ancien French writers such as Du Bellay & many writers of the fin-de-siècle period in French Literature. Also with the Russian OBERIU. 

Who are your heroes in real life?

I tend to be inspired by people who overcome challenges often at great personal risk to reach a destination they believe in. For example, Inglis, the first ever double amputee to climb Mount Everest, the journalist Marie Colvin who was fearless and wore an eye patch, our very own Hijab Imtiaz who not only was the first female Muslim pilot in the Subcontinent, but also the first horror writer. She too was determined and fearless. Edmund Snowden, willing to lose everything for the truth. 

What is your motto?

Be Here. Be Now. Be.