Nawaaz Ahmed

“For almost the entire period of the ten years I worked on my debut novel, Radiant Fugitives, my writing sessions have started the same way, listening to the same piece of music: ‘Libertango’ by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla. It’s a short piece, only a few minutes long in the version I own, but every time I hear the first few bars, my mind settles into a familiar groove, an acknowledgement that it is time to enter the writing space, no matter where I am or what time of the day it is. There’s something in ‘Libertango’ that feels like a promise—the title itself suggests freedom, and the driving rhythm seems to propel one forward, as if promising to free the next word, the next thought. I have over the years amassed a collection of Piazzolla albums that I play on shuffle after the ‘Libertango.’ The nuevo tango of Piazzolla is very versatile. It is expressive and dramatic, its moods range from the exuberant to the melancholic, shifting sometimes within the same piece, and is filled with strident dissonances and swooning ecstasies. Playing the pieces at random, I never know what to expect next. Listening to them fills me with the hope that some unexpected emotional resonance will soon jog me out of whatever writing impasse I’ve gotten myself into, and bring something new to the work that I may not have intended or known it needed.”
—Nawaaz Ahmed, author of Radiant Fugitives (Counterpoint, 2021)

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  • October 6, 2021