All posts filed under: Short Stories

Featured image: Sahar Mustafah sits outdoors, smiling and looking off-camera. She wears a black winter coat, light grey scarf, and large hoop earrings. A bush with tan leaves fills most of the space behind her, with greenery and parts of a building behind that. Photo by Mark Blanchard.

Beyond the Page: Sahar Mustafah

“Beyond the Page” digs into the process and practice of writers and artists who work at the intersection of literary arts and other fields. For this installment, I interviewed fiction writer and high school English teacher Sahar Mustafah about her debut novel, “The Beauty of Your Face.” We spoke in January about her process of drafting, crafting, and publishing the book; how her writing and teaching inform each other; and key experiences — and women — that have shaped her as an author. “The Beauty of Your Face” (W.W. Norton, 2020) is available for pre-order. Check out the book launch event and reading at the American Writers Museum on April 7. Find Mustafah on Twitter @saharmustafah. This interview has been edited for length and clarity, and to limit plot-related spoilers to the contents of the prologue and the book jacket. Marya Spont-Lemus: I’ve admired your work since we met through StoryStudio’s “Novel in a Year” program in 2015. I loved your short story collection, Code of the West (Willow Books, 2017), and was completely absorbed …

Why I Die In Winter

After taking the longest, hottest shower, the cold air beyond the curtain grabbed at my skin like frigid hands ripping me from the arms of a warm lover. That was the morning that Jeremy died. It felt like the end was near the night before. He asked me to put his rocking chair on the enclosed front porch even though it was the dead of winter, and freezing. A snowstorm had blanketed the lawns, trees, hedges, and rooftops, creating a picturesque scene that covered the bloodstained streets, grass depraved lawns, dying trees, and crooked hedges the summer left behind in our South Side neighborhood. The storm drowned out the sounds of every block.  We sat in silence for a moment, wrapped in layers of African mud cloth and every blanket we could find, taking in deep breaths of crisp, cold air, relieving our lungs of the sickroom smell we inhaled daily.  “Remember when?” Jeremy said as he lit up a joint.  I immediately began to laugh because he was so funny.  “Remember when we first …