To what does she ascribe this
"I was born with two blessings," Dilara responds.
"First, what the American writer Elizabeth Hardwick has
called the greatest gift - a passion for reading."
Young Dilara devoured the Bengali classics, then foreign
works in translation - especially Russian masters like Dotyevsky,
Turgenyev, Tolstoy and Gorky.
"My second, and the major, blessing was to be born in a
large and lively family (2 brothers and 5 sisters) presided
over by loving, cultured, hard-working parents."
Family provided stimulation and subjects for such well-received
works as Amlokir Mou (Bitter Sweet, 1980: also a Bangladesh
Television series) and the autobiographical novel of childhood,
Kakataliya (Coincidence, 1981).
Meanwhile, the pressures of history and politics have led
to repeated personal uprooting, relocations, and emigration.
Dilara translated these experiences into contemporary novels
of the most varied subject and setting, from contemporary
Pakistan - the epic Chandragrohan (Lunar Eclipse, 2002) - to
recent New York - the "novel in dialogue" Sesh
Rater Songlap (Twin Towers, 2003).
Besides Literature, Dilara has from the beginning also made
time for a professional career as a newsreader and international
broadcaster at Radio Pakistan (where she was a national newsreader),
Radio Bangladesh, the BBC London and - since coming
to the USA in 1972 - the Voice of America. In the cultural
sphere, Dilara's love of Bengali music led her to vocal study;
she subsequently performed light classical music on air and
released a number of recordings for EMI Pakistan in the 1960s.
Today Dilara Hashem continues to maintain her dual career as
international broadcaster and as woman writer exploring the
themes of society and the evolving position of women in different
global settings. She still relishes informal music -making,
good company, good food and good films, whether from Hollywood,
Bollywood or the European classics.