CWM: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your interests in interculturalism?
Masih: I have a bicultural background. My father is from India. He met and married my mother in the United States. She is of European descent. I grew up on Long Island, part of New York State, a great place for someone of my background during a time when there were few mixed children. Going to school with children of immigrants from all over the world made it easy for me to blend in. And exposed me to many different cultures—Italian, Greek, Jewish, to name a few. For the most part we were allowed to be different and hold on to our foreign traditions, while adopting those of Americans. There were clashes, but mainly between children and their parents. So I grew up with many cultures and many viewpoints and was taught by my family to respect them all, being told that each culture has something to offer. I think we’ve lost sight of that and I hope in some small measure to bring that back by starting respectful discussions of our differences and similarities and what we can learn from each other. I’m appalled at the direction that discussions are going on the Internet. We are losing the ability to discuss tough topics respectfully, and it’s hurting intercultural relations.
CWM: The new book The Best Small Fictions 2015 just came out, in which you were series editor. Tell us a little bit about this anthology and how it came about?
Masih: I was preparing an introduction for The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and discovered that Robert Oberfirst had published an annual series titled Anthology of Best Short-Short Stories that ran from 1952-60. I wanted to bring that series back. However, our series is more inclusive of prose forms, as the short short has become experimental and hybridized in the literary community. And we are making a bigger effort to make the series international. My interculturalism peeking through again.