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Hasan Namir’s God in Pink

Hasan Namir

It’s undeniable how lucky we are to be able to live in Canada. Sure every city has their share of problems, but we generally don’t have much to complain about. Simple freedoms like being able to practice your religion, celebrate your culture and embrace your sexuality are things that we take for granted.

God in Pink is the brave debut novel by Hasan Namir about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a closeted university student whose parents have died, living under the close scrutiny of his strict brother and sister-in-law. They exert pressure on him to find a wife, leaving him anguished and struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion and culture. Desperate for counsel, he seeks the advice of Ammar, a sheikh at a local mosque, whose tolerance is challenged by the contradictions between Ramy’s dilemma and the teachings of the Qur’an, leading him to question his own belief system.

We were excited to be able to interview the author of God in Pink, Hasan Namir, and celebrate the launch of his book on Saturday, October 17th at M.I.A.. Check out our interview below and check out the official Facebook event for more information about the launch.

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Please introduce yourself

My name is Hasan Namir. My actual name is Hasan Abood, but I use Hasan Namir as my pen name. I’m originally from Iraq and I moved to Vancouver with my family in 1998.

Is there a specific reason why you decided to use a pen name?

When it comes to my writing, I always used Namir as my last name. It’s actually my dad’s name and I just felt like it spoke to me. I wanted to have something distinct from Hasan Abood because you know, we’re two different people overall.

Is God in Pink a work of fiction?

It’s a work of fiction, yes. It’s kind of inspired by my personal stories and it has a lot of me in it for sure. A lot of it was also inspired by life experiences that I’ve witnessed, especially when it comes to religion, my sexuality, my culture, my family, and all that.

Would you say that the release of this novel to the world right now is the perfect time for people to openly support and receive this kind of story? I think this kind of novel may not have garnered the same about of support maybe even 5 years ago.

Absolutely. Especially right now with what’s going on with ISIS killing gay people and the stuff that’s happening in Iraq and Syria. Because it’s an issue that has always been there, but I think now is when people are acknowledging that it’s really happening you know?

What the novel shows is that the Qur’an doesn’t just outright condemn homosexuality, there’s a lot more to it. I didn’t want to just preach my beliefs in this book, I wanted to educate the readers and let them discover themselves that the issue is a really grey area.

Who did you write this book for or who are you hoping to reach with this book?

I have a friend that, thank God lives in Vancouver now so he’s safe, but he was actually going to be executed in Iraq for being gay. The reason why they let him go is because he was in a wheelchair and they felt sorry for him.

When I heard that story, I felt like my novel gave those kids a voice and allowed other people to realize that those voices are out there. This topic hasn’t been addressed a lot in books and film, so I wanted to give that world a voice, start a dialogue and explore this topic further.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on my book of poetry actually that’s called War Torn. I’ve also been working on a second novel called Son of Sodom and that deals with the idea of child play in Afganistan. It’s a barbaric thing that is still going on to this day.

Anything else you want to say?

I’m just really excited for the book launch and I really hope that it will start a dialogue for people to really address the issue further and realize that it’s not just a black and white issue.

Hasan Namir

God in Pink Book Launch Party

Where: M.I.A. – 350 Water Street
When: Saturday, October 17
Time: 7:30 – 10pm
Cost: Free entry

-Vanessa Tam

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