Sohaila Abdulali was born in Mumbai and moved to the United States with her family when she was a teenager. She has a BA from Brandeis University in economics and sociology and an MA from Stanford University in communication. Her undergraduate thesis dealt with the socio-economics of rape in India. She is the author of two novels as well as children’s books and short stories. She lives in New York with her family.
Her novel, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, is out now.
Interviews and Features
Podcast - Publishers Weekly: Sohaila Abdulali
When Sohaila Abdulali started writing What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, she thought she was writing an “outlying book on an outlying topic.” Then the #MeToo movement happened. Publishers Weekly talked to Abdulali about how the book came to be, what she learned, and how the conversation about rape changed while she was writing it.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape was one of ‘Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2018. Listen to the podcast in full here.Hear the podcast
Recent Books of Interest to Women Scholars
Sohaila’s title, What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, was featured in the WIA Report of Recent Books of Interest to Women Scholars. Intrigued which other titles made the list? Have a look here.
The Telegraph article by Sohaila Abdulali
‘Most rapists are men who choose to rape. That counts more than whether their victims are tough or weak, rich or poor – all those factors come into play, but that one choice is at the heart of the matter. And while men from New York to New Delhi make that choice, we all have a rape problem.’
Read Sohaila’s article in The Telegraph here.
Bustle: Taking A Global View of The #MeToo Movement
‘If we can’t stick to our ossified expectations of how we are supposed to behave, then we have to rethink everything we know about male privilege, who gets to say yes and no and stop, and both consent and pleasure. It’s very exciting! It implies being able to rethink and redefine how we conduct ourselves in the world.’
Sohaila in conversation with E CE Miller for Bustle. Read the full article here.
Longreads: Sohaila Abdulali
‘What do people get wrong when they talk about rape?’
‘Oh, everything. For one thing, the idea that women somehow bring it on themselves. I mean, we have countries in the world where that’s kind of the law, right? In Iran, if you show your head and you get raped, then you’re [responsible for] it. And also [the idea] that men can’t help it. Many of the men I know absolutely can help it, and they choose not to do it.
Read the full interview over on the Longreads website here.
Podcast - The Brian Lehrer Show: Sohaila AbdulaliHear the podcast
Publishers Weekly: Sohaila Abdulali Tells Stories of Survivors
‘I wanted this balance: rape is serious but, like everything else in life, you can be light. In fact, part of the whole problem, certainly in India, is that if you’re raped, you’re supposed to be overcome with heaviness and die.’
Read the full article by Publishers Weekly here.
Sohaila discussing What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape.
Electric Lit: A Master Class in Women’s Rage
‘Many of our required reading texts use the author’s personal experience as a starting point for a discussion about larger societal issues. As Abdulali notes, this can make them difficult to categorize properly:
“Essays? Not really. Sociology? Not Learned or Academic enough. Psychology? No, too opinionated. Research? Not comprehensive enough. Memoir? Heaven forbid.”
‘Do you suppose that’s why nonfiction discussing the continued oppression of 51 percent of the world’s population frequently ends up stashed on the “Women’s Studies” shelf in bookstores, as opposed to, say, the “Current Affairs” display?’
Sohaila Abdulali featured on Electric Lit in an article by Kate Harding, discussing how non-fiction, feminist titles end up hidden away and not on the political shelf. Read the entire article here.
BBC World Service: Sohaila Abdulali
‘I got a grant to go back to India and talk about rape, and I think that was one of the most naive things I’ve ever done in my life. I somehow thought I’d show up and find all these people to talk to, who would tell me their stories. In fact, there was a huge amount of denial.’
Sohaila Abdulali on the BBC World Service discussing What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape. Listen again here.
Harper’s Bazaar: Talking About Writing About Rape
‘Just for this lovely moment, I’m living the dream. I’ve spent some months writing a book, had a grand time doing it, and it’s poised to come out all over the world. It might sell; it might not. The dreamy part was working on it, talking to incredible people, typing madly while ignoring the reality that my table is too high and my chair too low and it huts to sit here and why don’t I get a real desk…’
Sohaila discussing What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape in Harper’s Bazaar, Indian- October 2018. You can read the article here: Harper’s Bazaar India, October 2018