& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016: A Year of Belief & Kidneys

2016 will be an important year for me. My debut novel Belief was published in September. Also, I was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis (GN). It's a disease; both my kidneys are malfunctioning.

Let me first deal with my novel.

After a prolonged process, during which I was often not even sure what I was doing, I finally saw the book when my publishers (Mawenzi House Publishers) gave me the first copy of my debut novel. 

It was one of the happiest moments of my life. As I held the book in my hands, I realised that Charles Pachter’s self-portrait Decoy, which was used for cover, added a lot of gravitas to a grim story.

My publishers had arranged for me to read at the Word on the Street in Toronto and had Quill and Quire review the novel. I was glad the reviewer understood that the novel wasn’t just about terrorism, as much as it was about immigration and youth radicalization. 

The Toronto Star published a story about my reading from the novel at the condo where I worked as a security guard and where I began writing the book. That report by Nicholas Keung made me a minor celebrity as two other newspapers republished the story. Other media outlets also published reports (and narrowcasted discussions) about the novel and me.

My publisher told me that it’d been taken up as an undergraduate course material at Ryerson University (but I don’t have any details), and seemed satisfied that the book was selling well. 

Of course, some friends underlined the fact that I had managed just one review, implying it'd be forgotten soon, and hinting that the little attention it got was both ill-gotten and ill-deserved. 

Did the novel get the attention it deserved? 

I suppose so. 

There is no denying that I’d have loved for it to have become a critically acclaimed, mass-market success. But it's unlikely to be. 

Like most first novels, it was praised by people the author knew, bought by a few, and read by fewer.

I hope the book will continue to attract the attention of readers and will continue to sell in 2017.

Now, about my kidneys. From the internet I gathered the following: 

“Glomerulonephritis is inflammation of the glomeruli, which are structures in ones kidneys that are made up of tiny blood vessels. These knots of vessels help filter blood and remove excess fluids. If the glomeruli are damaged, the kidneys will stop working properly and one can go into kidney failure. Glomerulonephritis is a serious illness that can be life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. The condition is sometimes called nephritis. There can be both acute (sudden) glomerulonephritis and chronic (long-term or recurring) glomerulonephritis.”

To add to the complications, it was also discovered that I had low thyroid count, a hereditary ailment.

From a person who took pride in not taking a sick day off from work, ever, I had to take time off to visit two doctors regularly, be admitted to a hospital and undergo a biopsy, and be on permanent medication.

Almost everyone who got to know of this was concerned; although quite disconcertingly, a few seemed glad. Their reaction, never openly expressed but glaringly obvious, was, “Well, that should finally put you in your place!”  

Both, the publication of my novel and my illness taught me an important lesson – to rein in my expectations about praise and recognition, and empathy and understanding.  

Schadenfreude is a German word that means pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. 

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