See her in Dubai this month
Winner of The Great British Bakeoff and a celebrated TV personality Nadiya Hussain is coming to Dubai this month to present both of her books, “Finding My Voice” and “My Monster and Me”, at the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
A leading figure for the Muslim community in the UK and a bright voice for those dealing with anxiety (Hussain has been battling anxiety since a young age), she was awarded Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen for services to broadcasting and the culinary arts.
Nadiya shares with us what it took to find her own identity and what she has learnt about herself through the process of writing.
In “Finding My Voice” you really question your identity and role in society. What have you learnt about yourself through the process of writing?
Through life you find yourself questioning your identity and role in society. Depending on where you’re from or what your background, how you were raised etc, it can all have an effect on how we learn and what we learn about ourselves. I have always questioned my roles and that has allowed me to identify with my role in society in a different way to the way perhaps my parents and their parents were raised.
As a Muslim woman, did you find you had to break a lot of personal barriers to write in the most honest way?
Growing up, I never had a piece of literature I could relate to, or watch anyone on television that I identified with. So writing this book was way out of my comfort zone. I never had a point of reference and so I had to write honestly and openly in the hope that certain subjects would help to break some barriers and bring up conversations that would not otherwise be had.
What was the hardest thing to face during the writing process?
This book is more of a collection of memoirs and memories as opposed to an autobiography so I had to be respectful of the people and the memories I was writing about.
Do you think we can ever get over our insecurities?
I think as humans we are always going to have insecurities. Some days I feel like have the confidence of a lioness and I can walk out with my head held high. Other times I struggle to get out of bed because I don’t feel like me. It’s been easier to accept that I, like everyone else, come with insecurities. That in some sort of bizarre fashion has made me more secure.
“My Monster and Me” aims to help parents talk to talk about anxiety with their children. What was your personal experience with anxiety?
I had anxiety from a very young age and it is something that I will no doubt have forever. That is why I felt it was even extra important to write a book for children to help them understand worries and cope with anxiety through communication.
Do you feel the pressure of being seen as a role model?
There will always be pressure when you work in the public eye. As a mother working in the public, being a Muslim woman of colour has meant there is added pressure. But it is one that I welcome.
Congratulations on your MBE! Where were you when you found out?
I was in the bath when I got the letter, I was jet lagged from my trip from California for filming. But it was a massive surprise and I had to keep it a secret for a few months.
We’re coming over for dinner, what’s on the table?
Samosa char to start with tamarind chutney, chicken korma and rice with a roasted tomato chutney and a rasmalai cake with ice cream
What, as a society, can we do to be more inclusive and diverse?
Celebrating diversity means celebrating people and authors and writers from all walks of life, from different financial backgrounds and different communities.
A new baking series and my new cookbook – Nadiya Bakes – will be out later this year. I’ve just finished filming my foodie travelogue in the USA too – Nadiya’s American Melting Pot.
See Nadiya Hussein at Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on February 7 at 10am and 4pm