BY THE BOOK: Lubnah Abdulhalim

Wednesday March 18 2020

Lubnah Abdulhalim is a blogger at Strokes of My Pen. PHOTO| COURTESY


Lubnah Abdulhalim is a blogger at Strokes of My Pen. She is a full-time writer and the author of Unbroken Wings. Her blog was nominated by BAKE (Bloggers Association of Kenya) in 2016 for the Top 5 in Creative Writing category.

She has a degree in Journalism and Mass communication, a diploma in Islamic studies and is currently a student of psychology.

She is also the founder of Creative Writers' League where she conducts writing training every month; a course that is specially tailored for the Coastal community.

Lubnah is also working on her second book, another biography by the title Dropped to the World, Adopted by Fate. It is her goal to create a writing revolution at the Coast as well as make an impact and leave a legacy through her writings. She blogs at:

Tell me the three books that excited you the most in 2017?

2017 was absolutely amazing because I discovered Khaled Hosseini’s work. I got to read all his three books but I loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns way too much.

The third book would be The Partner by John Grisham. It really kept me on the edge with all the suspense and thrill. It is the kind of book that leaves you staring at the wall ten minutes after you are done with it.

Which two books do you hold so dear that they can’t possibly be lent out?

The Kite Runner, definitely. I’m waiting to see which other book will top that. The other would be Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie. Both books revolve around family and trials. I think that’s why they are special to me.

Your fauvorite childhood books? Why?

Goosebumps and Fear Street by R.L. Stine!! I loved these books because they challenged my deep fear and anxiety. They are great reads honestly! Harry potter and Nancy Drew books were also the order of the day.

My late aunt, Naima Baghozi, used to write children’s books. She was my greatest inspiration especially because all her stories had local settings and had great moral lessons. May her soul rest in peace, ameen.

If you were to dine with three writers dead/alive, who would they be and why?

Yasmin Mogahed, author of Reclaim Your Heart and a spiritual/motivational speaker. It is as though I am following her academic footsteps and although this is purely coincidental, I would love to hear her personal journey. Her book is life-changing and deep; I’d definitely love to have a one to one conversation with her.

Khaled Hosseini, I mean, of course!  His books aside, he does outstanding humanitarian work in Afghanistan for the refugees. He defines what I want to become as a writer; a best-seller that has a huge impact through both his actual writings and what he does in his real life.

Wow, now the third writer...I have a long list! But I think I’d go for Warsan Shire. Her words are breathtaking; some of her pieces leave me with exclamation marks in my heart. I love how she unknowingly challenges me as a writer. I need to pull up my socks (Laughs).

Most unforgettable character from a book?

Hassan from the Kite Runner. The boy had such a pure, innocent soul yet with a heartbreaking and traumatic childhood. I could feel his pain in my bones.

I mean, if he was real, I’d adopt him while he was still young.

Which book do you wish you had written and why?

Okay maybe this is too much but The Kite Runner still. I hope I can someday write a book that can make me feel so immensely the same way this book did to me. That is one of my  writing goals actually.

If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?

I’d take Land of the Living by Nicci French. It is a thriller and I was hyped up throughout the book.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. If I had a hard copy of this one it would definitely fall  under ‘the books I wouldn’t possibly lend out’. It is a very moving story and it is a memoir,that automatically makes it more interesting.

Street Lawyer by John Grisham is another legal thriller book, definitely worth a re-read.

Do you think book festivals, literary prizes and writing workshops are important to a writer’s growth?

Of course. I believe any writer can do so much better if exposed to other ideas and interacted with other writers.

Personally, I have benefitted a lot from the writers I have met during the few writing workshops I’ve attended. It is mind-blowing sitting across your fellows and just hearing about their writing journeys, their thoughts and aspirations.

Tell me about the last book that made you cry?

The Kite Runner. If I read it again, I’m sure I’ll cry again. A Walk to Remember is another emotional one.

Among your contemporaries, who do you consider the most exciting newcomer in the writing world and why?

I know some really exceptional writers. However, I’ll mention Ahmed Shayo who has blogs at Words of My Youth. His poetry is just amazing.

I have seen him grow and I can see his dedication in improving his work. I honestly can’t wait to see his work in print or hopefully, being performed in international platforms.

Just one more; Abdulqadir Mahmoud who runs a blog; ‘self charge’, he is a very promising writer as well. Like I said, the list is endless.

What are you currently writing?

There is a biography I am working on. It revolves around adoption. Apart from that is a story I hold dear. It is about a Coastal boy who seeks justice after his father is murdered by the police for allegedly being involved with terrorists.

The story was inspired by the chaotic events in Mombasa in the previous years on the issues of radicalization and terrorism. This will also give me a chance to write a story with a Coastal setting, something I’ve always wanted to do.


BY THE BOOK is a literary series that covers authors, bloggers, actors, academics and poets of note in the African continent. For comments or inquiries, e-mail: [email protected]