• Sarah Jessica Parker dishes on 'SATC' and the brand-new novel from SJP for Hogarth

    By: USA Today

    Updated:

    Sarah Jessica Parker, star of the HBO series "Divorce," will forever be Carrie on "Sex and the City," the iconic show that's now celebrating its 20th anniversary. But she’s also a book lover, and she's joined the world of publishing. Parker is editorial director of the new literary imprint SJP for Hogarth, a division of industry giant Penguin Random House, and the imprint's first title is "A Place for Us"  by Fatima Farheen Mirza. The debut novel tells the story of an Indian Muslim family in California on the eve of eldest daughter Hadia’s wedding. The novel unravels the past to explain why Hadia's younger brother, Amar, is estranged from the family. Parker and Mirza joined USA TODAY in New York for a live video chat for #BookmarkThis. Highlights:

    Question: Sarah Jessica, tell us about the mission of SJP for Hogarth.

    Sarah Jessica Parker: I love literary fiction so much, and I think it deserves special attention, special care, a sort of shepherding.

    Q: What attracted you to "A Place for Us"?

    Parker: I think what impressed me immediately is that this is a singular book. Fatima is a really important, powerful American voice. She is telling a story that I had not yet read about a Muslim family in this country. It’s about an American family in its own way, but in all its pluralities. I think it is such a disciplined, quiet, deeply moving, sentimental, but strangely strong portrait of this family. The care that this young writer took – I was so absorbed, I was so concerned, attached, taken in, swept up, distracted by these characters so quickly.

    Fatima Farheen Mirza: When the name Hadia came to me, I hesitated, because I was so aware that there was only one narrative of Muslims that I would see on the screen or in the news, and it was often negative or stereotypical. I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want to contribute to that in any way. It felt too important. So I paused. But when I really started thinking about what the characters’ concerns are … I told myself as long as I do justice to their narrative, to tell their story as they would tell it, to really try to imagine every single perspective in this family, then I would allow myself to follow that curiosity.

    Q: Is your novel autobiographical?

    Mirza: The details are what feels most personal to me, where I see the facial expression of my cousin or I see the ice cream my father would pick out when we’d go to Baskin-Robbins together. But the family is a fictional family. The plot points, the incidents that happen in the novel, are borne from the characters’ personalities.

    Q: When did you two first meet and what has your working relationship been like?

    Mirza: Our first conversation was over a year ago. When you’re working on a novel, you’re working alone and you have no idea what’s going to be picked up on; you have no idea what a reader’s going to connect to. It’s so heartwarming and deeply reassuring to hear Sarah Jessica speak about the book because (she) really (does) touch upon the heart of what I have most wanted to convey.

    Q: This month marks the 20th anniversary of "Sex and the City." Sarah Jessica, what’s been going through your mind?

    Parker: Reflections, just enjoying the memories. People reminding me of things I’ve forgotten. I really struggled: How was I going to address it on Instagram? Which seems so silly. It’s such an important chapter in my life and I’m so grateful of the time. I feel so privileged and there are so many relationships with the city (New York) and people and crew and storytelling that I’m proud of and joyful about. But I was like, "What pictures (do I post) and how do I describe this?" What has meant the most to me, strangely, is reading the comments back: Posting (a) picture and human beings typing with thumbs, or more fingers, their feelings about the show … Social media didn’t exist when we shot the show.

    Q: Fatima you were, what, 7 years old when the show came on? Have you caught up?

    Mirza: I have, yeah, we’ve spoken about it. (They both laugh.)

    Q. You’re a Carrie, you’re a …?

    Mirza: (More laughter.) I don’t know if I could answer that.

    Parker: I feel, like all of us, she’s a combination. There’s a lot of Carrie in her: curiosity, her love of writing and words and language and observation. I also think there’s a lot of Miranda, who was always centered and steady and reliable and loyal and true and a great friend.

     

     

     

     

     

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