Murad Kalam

Murad Kalam

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
November 6, 2003

Q. Who is Murad Kalam?

A. He is a novelist and attorney living in Washington, D.C.

Q.What inspired you to write NIGHT JOURNEY?

A. I wanted to write about youth--being naive, finding yourself, but most of all falling in love. Also: masculinity as expressed in boxing.

Q. How did you come about the title?

A. It's an allusion to the Quran. Part of Eddie's journey is spiritual. He briefly comes under the spell of the Nation. But, it's really not a spiritual novel in that he finds the same hypocrisy and disappointment in all his religious stations; rather it's more an allusion to novels of self discovery, like the French novel: Journey to the End of the Night.

Q. How did you come about Eddie’s character?

A. In some way he's me. I wanted to write about a perfect innocent. I wanted to write about the young black man in America and our identity crisis in the mid-nineties. Trying to figure out what it means to be a man, etc. Like all characters, he started speaking to me.

Q. Why did Turtle kill Jules?

A. Jules is a father figure. Turtle hates his father; hates authority. Jules understands him, looks down upon him. Turtle hates this. Jules has created him. It's about destroying your father.

Q. How did you come about Adolpho and Tessa characters?

A. Adolpho is based on someone I knew in Boston. I grew up with Latino friends, and I wanted to express the beauty of their culture. He's a sort of mystic. He and Eddie can communicate in a way that turtle and eddie cannot. I just heard him. He is another idea of manhood, of vulnerability. He can tell Eddie that he loves him.

Q. Why did you choose Muslims as Eddie’s religion?

A. It's important to point out that the novel isn't really about Islam in the end. I was writing about a particular point in time. During the mid-nineties, a lot of young black men were considering Islam. Million Man March. Spike Lee's Malcolm X. A lot of them saw Islam as a way to become a man. Islam connected to the idea of black manhood, all the ideas tied up with it. Yet, whatever religion Eddie chose the story would have been the same: is illusionment and painful self-discovery.

Q. Will there be a sequel to NIGHT JOURNEY?

A. I've really considered it. I have a sense of where Eddie might go. I think he has a lot to say. So, yes.

Q. How long have you been writing?

A. Since 11.

Q. Why genre do you write in?

A. I write literary fiction--serious stuff.

Q. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A. I just need a notepad and a few hours a day. I like silence or music.

It's more like weightlifting. I have to write every day to keep my muscles in shape.

Q. Are you currently working on another novel?

A. I've started one. It's about Westerners living in the Middle East.

Q. What message would you like readers to receive from reading NIGHT JOURNEY?

A. The power of love. Youth. The painfulness of self-discovery. Ideas of what it means to be a man. The power of women. The power of fantasy and self-delusion. To think about the poor and dispossed. It's a black coming of age novel, about men, but the intended audience is anyone who remembers growing up. I think of it as a very American book because it's about self-creation.