Shelina Shariff-Zia grew up in Nairobi, a tomboy who climbed trees and was always getting into trouble. She is the fifth generation of an Indian family who moved to Kenya from Gujarat. She attended Loreto Convent Msongari, a school run by Irish nuns. The author grew up speaking English, Gujarati and Swahili.
At nineteen, she moved to Texas to study Literature at Rice University. After an M.A.in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, she went back to Kenya to work in education. Later she became a Wall Street reporter covering chemicals and finance.
After living in Nairobi, Kampala, Karachi, Toronto, Cincinnati and Miami among other cities she has settled in New York with her family. She teaches English at the Bronx Community College. This is her first novel.
Tara and I often laugh about how she would climb up on a stool and give me bananas through the small window when Mum locked me up in there as a punishment,
Except it wasn't much of a punishment as I curled up with a towel as a pillow and caught up on my reading.
Those days Mum and I were clashing a lot anyway. It seemed that I was always doing something to annoy her. And the fact that I liked a boy when I was only eleven years old was sure to bring on another interrogation. Sometimes, she locked me in the small bathroom to punish me for my latest masti or misdeed. Tara would feel sorry for me and climb on a chair to push bananas through the window for me. The window was high up and covered with an iron grill. I would lie down in the bathtub with a towel folded behind my neck to make me comfortable; I hid a book in the bathroom for such occasions. So I’d curl up in the bathtub and read and eat my bananas. Once, when Mum unlocked the door, I was so comfortable reading, I stayed there for a while longer.