Imad Rahman

Fiction | Cleveland State University
Image of Imad Rahman


Phone | (216) 687-3990
Email |

Recent Publications


I Dream Of Microwaves. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 2004).


I Watch Knight Of Cups.” The New England Review (Vol. 39, #2, June 2018), Essay.
Short, Unhappy.” The New England Review, Digital Archives Project, Dec 2013, Short Story.
The Brigadier-General Takes His Final Stand, by James Butt.” xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, Kate Bernheimer ed., Penguin Books, Sept., 2013, Short Story.
Petty.” The Fairy Tale Review, February 2012, Short Story.
Hound Days.” Robert Lopez’s No News Today project, August 2011, Short Story.
“I, Claudius.” Radical Society, Spring 2006, Short Story.
All Roads Lead To Flesh and Bone.” Willow Springs, Spring 2005, Short Story.
“From Kilgore To Kurtz, At The Steak’n Stage.” Bridge, Issues 7/8, Fall 2003, Short Story.

About Imad

Imad Rahman teaches creative writing at Cleveland State University. His first book, I Dream Of Microwaves, a collection of connected stories, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2004, and has since been translated into French. He was named a “Breakout Author” by Interview magazine and Writers Digest, and his book was a 2004 Best Books selection by The Journal News. His stories have appeared in One Story, Chelsea, Gulf Coast, The Sonora Review and Willow Springs, among others. His short story, “Eating, Ohio,” received a Special Mention in the 2005 Pushcart Prize anthology. He was the 2001-02 James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He directs the annual Imagination Writers Workshop & Conference at CSU.

Where did you grow up?

Karachi, Pakistan.

What is one of your favorite places in Cleveland?

The Cedar-Fairmount area in Cleveland Heights. You’ve got groceries, bars, restaurants and cafes in about a two-block radius.

What’s on your nightstand right now?

My nightstand is broken.

What’s your preferred method for eating a cupcake?

I wish I could, but I don’t eat cupcakes.

What’s your cure for hiccups?

Drink fast or breathe slow.

Your craziest/most interesting teacher?

Padgett Powell, on both counts, and I think he’d be tickled I said so.

If you could have a superpower what superpower would it be?

For a long time, I had a superpower. I became invisible during department meetings. I’ve since lost that superpower. Visibility comes with a price. 

Do you have any eccentric habits/strategies to get you started writing?

I like writing at night with all the lights under my control turned off. All I can see is the laptop keyboard & screen & the darkness beyond makes it easier for me to imagine a world that is both familiar and strange. 

What is your favorite word or words?

Whatever my son says next.

What was the best reading you’ve ever been to? Why?

I got to introduce George Saunders when he read for the NEOMFA a few years back. I’ve been a fan since grad school in the previous century. The reading was great, of course, because he’s George Saunders, but it was also a very special thing to discover that one of your favorite writers is also a genuine stand-up human being.

What’s the highest number of revisions you’ve done on a single piece of your writing?


What’s your secret talent?

I’m a decent cook, which may surprise everyone I haven’t cooked for, which is most people I know.

What do you secretly hope someone else will bring to a potluck?

More wine.

How do you respond when someone challenges the role of the MFA in creative writing?

A personal truth isn’t necessarily a universal truth—just because something is true for you personally doesn’t mean it’s universally true for everyone else. We get in trouble when policy-makers don’t understand this, & I think it’s problematic when the experiences of a few (say, you and some people you know—regardless of whether the experience is positive or negative) are meant to reflect the experiences of the many. So, challenge away. I’m betting MFA programs will continue to exist because the experience is valuable (it was for me, but of course that’s just a personal truth), & as long as the institutional support exists.

Are you pro experimental forms of creating writing or against them—meaning the uses of em dashes, hyphens, ampersands, no punctuation, and so forth?

I think that depends on the writer. & I don’t necessarily think any of these forms are experimental. Off the top of my head, Faulkner (to name one of many) broke most of these ‘rules’ & Faulkner is canonical, & I don’t think of anything that is canonical as ‘experimental’ in our particular moment (i.e. it might have been experimental then, now it’s just another tool in a contemporary writer’s toolbox); you just have to know when to use it. All of which is to say, writing, like life, is an experiment. I welcome everything as long as it works. If it doesn’t work, it’s my job to help it work better.