Purdue University Graduate School

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Distance, the Midnight

posted on 2022-04-26, 18:24 authored by Amina Sarah KhanAmina Sarah Khan


These short stories began as reimaginings – I wondered what would come if I took Islamic myths of churail, oracular trees, and jinn and considered them in the half-light of diaspora, where the monsters are familiar but newly cultured to a globalized world. The stories in Distance, the Midnight, both flash and long-form, are loosely linked by themes of alienation, physical displacement, and grief. They ask questions about questions, which in the world of the book are best left unanswered, and the possession of the spirit, which, normally feared as a loss of control of the body, is here depicted as a necessary escape to a different sort of embodiment. 

In “Antipode,” Paro, a churail living in Houston, marks the ten year anniversary of her husband’s death and the loss of her connection to the divine with her first real exorcism in over a decade. In “No Blood in the Creek,” Mallika, who was once possessed looks for her jinn in a desperate attempt to be displaced from her body once more. In “Admiring Myself Sideways,” a woman grown accustomed to her split personality searches for a lost self in mirrors. In “Hard Work,” an unemployed person gives up on the job market and turns to a life of crime and communes. These stories and the rest point to a singular interrogative: what if giving up on the being we’re born into is a better alternative to accepting it. 

I could not have written this manuscript without having read Leonora Carrington, Helen Oyeyemi, Sabrina Orah Mark, Clarice Lispector and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya alongside folktales from the global south. From these writers, I’ve learned that the surreal can lend a story more than diversion and quirk. It can be a vehicle for tenderness, can leave a reader raw, unsure at what point the text peeled away a scab. I hope this collection is a movement towards that tenderness. 


Degree Type

  • Master of Fine Arts


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Brian Leung

Additional Committee Member 2

Sharon Solwitz

Additional Committee Member 3

Kaveh Akbar

Additional Committee Member 4

Paige Lewis

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