British-Bangladeshi author Mahsuda Snaith presented her new novel, How to Find Home, at Beeston Library to a full-house of book-lovers.
This is the second book by The Observer’s New Face of Fiction (2017) – a list of authors tipped for success – where she traces the life of Molly, the homeless protagonist.
Mahsuda has been extremely meticulous in researching about homeless people before penning their lives as she wanted to break stereotypes associated with their lives.
“I have always been interested in people whose lives we kind of see but really don’t know about. We walk past homeless people all the time and as a writer, I wanted to know about their lives’ reality.
“And then I watched a mini-series, where it showed the lives of these girls, who were sex-workers and lived on streets, and this kind of demystified a lot of things for me.
“Then the character Molly came up to me, she was homeless, she was initially a small part in a story, but then I realised that she needed a bigger story so I researched on them.
“I volunteered to a place who worked with sex workers, then I worked in a soup kitchen, and then worked in a homeless shelter, where I spoke to a lot of homeless people.”
The second-generation working-class immigrant’s journey to be an author was not easy.
The dream that she fostered since the age of eight, only started to take shape in 2014, when her debut novel, The Things We Thought We Knew, was well received with the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014.
Till then, the 37-year-old worked as a supply teacher in Leicester and continued to write during her free time.
While her first novel had some autobiographical elements, How to Find Home is more about the characters she has observed, researched on and communicated with.
Mahsuda was born in Luton and lived in Leicester, one of UK’s most diverse cities, which did not make her feel out of place. But, Mahsuda feels every immigrant goes through the eternal dilemma and the quest to find her ‘home’.
“I visited my native place Sylhet in Bangladesh when I was 19. I met my relatives, my family, but the people over there treat you as foreigners. And here, when I am out of Leicester, I am sometimes the only Brown person and that feels weird,” said the mother of a two-year-old.