Blade columnist publishes collection of op-edsWritten by Scott McKimmy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For the past 15 years, Dr. S. Amjad Hussain has been treading a fine line. The UT professor emeritus of thoracic cardiovascular surgery recently published a collection of his Blade op-ed columns in a 273-page book, “Treading a Fine Line” (The Long Riders Press Guild).
“When you’re expressing an opinion, it may be black and white; however, many times you are treading a very delicate and fine line,” Hussain said. “The reason I picked that title was that you want to express yourself; at the same time you want to be within the realm of decency and civility and express your opinion, and that also extends to the people who write to me and then I write back.”
Fluent in four languages, and semi-fluent in Persian, Hussain has written 10 books, five in English and five in Urdu, a language spoken in Pakistan and parts of India. He said he publishes about every two and a half to three years, always selecting a new topic. The idea for “Treading” came to him after reviewing his readers’ responses, some of which he described as “varied from complimentary to outright disgusting — outrageous, more or less.”
“I looked at them in a positive term; I did not look at them negatively,” he said. “I said, ‘Here is a country that I have been living in for the past 45 years where we have a debate, a rigorous debate about issues. Sometimes we don’t agree … The point is that we do have a debate.’”
While many columnists choose to publish op-ed anthologies, Hussain said he opted to include responses because, to the best of his knowledge, it’s never been done before. Some readers’ names have been withheld to preserve their anonymity, but all responses remain unedited, regardless of how “ugly and insulting they may be.” Hussain’s readers live at every corner of the globe.
“And I think in this book, you will find that it makes it much more interesting to see how the people living in Toledo, Ohio, and across the world — really, because some of my respondents are not in Toledo; they are in other countries — how they respond to a particular subject,” he said.
Hussain writes on topics ranging from “Iraqis deserve unqualified apology” to “Jewish religious symbol carries special poignancy,” usually relying on his Pakistani roots and diverse experience as a writer, professor, doctor and consultant.
Although he has published about 370 columns in The Blade, he said he believes his English — the fourth language he learned — falls short of being completely fluent. He had to overcome barriers to succeed as a columnist in the United States after writing in Pakistan as a dramatist and editor of literary magazines.
“Treading” is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and bookstores on both UT campuses.