Jehan Nizar kindled a lifelong obsession with the short story form when she bought a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies at an airport bookshop. She is a firm believer that a book never comes into your life by chance. Having spent her formative years between Dubai and India, it’s no coincidence that the protagonists of her stories often struggle to shake off the feeling of ‘otherness’ in the worlds they inhabit. Before pursuing the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she worked as a subeditor and lifestyle journalist in Dubai.
Her complete manuscript The Pool House and Other Stories is a collection that strives to capture the essence of a contemporary India and the mindset of a new breed of global Indians who constantly straddle two different worlds. This extract from one of the stories ‘Dancing in the Dark’ takes place when thirty-two-year-old British Indian teacher Anjali first arrives at the Kalagramam Kathakali Centre in Kerala. A documentary she watched about this dance school, where her estranged father’s father was an illustrious dancer and teacher, prompted her to visit India in search of something that would heal her sense of identity. In the process, she discovers a family secret.