Mona Awad

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 16th March 2016

As a child, Mona wrote fairy stories for her mother.

“I’ve been enjoying stories and trying to write them for as long as I can remember.”

After studying in England and Scotland, Mona married an American, and moved to the States. She finished her debut whilst taking an MFA at Brown University.

Who is Mona Awad

Date of birth: 22nd August, 1978, in Montreal.

Education: Toronto High School. York University: English Literature. Edinburgh University: Masters, English Literature. Brown University: MFA. Currently at University of Denver pursuing a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing.

Home: Denver.

Family: Ex husband.

The Day Job:  Writer. “And I teach Creative Writing to undergraduates.”

Interests: “I adore music, and I love dancing. I’m bad at it but do it anyway.”

Favourite Writers: Shakespeare; every emotion I feel from rage to fear gets performed in his plays. They are incredibly complex. Oscar Wilde. Doran Grey was an inspiration for this book, and I love his fairy tales. Jean Rhys. She explores alienation.

Second Novel: It’s in progress. It involves the supernatural and is about female friendship.

Top Tip: Listen to people. Listen to what they tell and don’t tell; watch how they hold themselves and how they react.

Web:   Twitter: @monoawadauthor

The Debut: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. Penguin: €16.50.  Kindle: €12.18. 

Lizzie has never liked the way she looks. A fat teenager, she will do anything for any man. Eventually preferring to date on line, she is terrified to send her photo for fear of rejection. When, as an adult, she becomes thin, her self-image remains skewed. This affects her marriage; her friendships, her confidence, and her attitude to clothes. And it’s something almost all women can relate to.

“There was so much I wanted to say about body image. I’ve seen my friends and my family struggle with it. I’m challenging the idea that when you change your body you change yourself. I wanted to explore what changes when you lose weight and what doesn’t. And how seeing oneself in a bad light can cause a lot of damage.” 

The Verdict: Written in an episodic way, this debut is a funny, poignant, horribly accurate portrayal of a woman’s skewed body-image. I loved it.

Published in the Irish Examiner on 12th March.

© Sue Leonard. 2015.

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