About the Author

Multicultural by birth, association, and choice, Karima Vargas Bushnell (M.A. Intercultural Relations) has described herself as “a short, part-Hispanic, Irish-fiddle-playing, Jewish-wisecracking, partly-Black-acculturated Sufi Muslim”. Though life has taken her north and east, much of her heart remains in the deserts and mountains of the Southwest.

Karima’s primary interest is in borders: not physical, but spiritual, mental, and emotional ones, the liminal spaces between worldviews where reality is negotiable. Her books occupy the borders of metafiction, literary fiction, and science fiction and illuminate the borders between her characters’ radically different cultures and worldviews. Her protagonist Halycon Sage, a mysterious author whose prototype she met many years after inventing him,* is a border crosser par excellence.

At 16, Karima sang “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkytonk Angels” for a radio commercial in Reno, and she is probably the only future Muslim (twenty years on) to ever sell beer and hotdogs at the Santa Cruz Auto Races. 

Her workshops, classes, and musical events have bridged many religions and cultures. Job titles have ranged from Adjunct Professor of Intercultural Communication to County Court Reporter to Strawberry Picker.

Karima’s awards are similarly varied. The Book of Squidly Light was an American Library Association / Booklist Magazine pick for May of 2020, while her play, Voices on the Waves, was once runner-up in Mixed Blood Theatre’s “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Dramas” comedy contest. Her writings have humor, character, high stakes, and informal sociology, but also a taste of the Unseen, which makes it all worthwhile.

*This encounter is described in Sage’s Multiverse Mini-Series.

More About Karima

Minnesota Department of Employee Relations (DOER), the National Science Foundation, HealthPartners, Antioch University, Hamline University, Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC), Minnesota Humanities Commission, Center for Cross-Cultural Health, Minnesota Diversified Industries, Open U., American Association of University Women, Minnesota Catholic Education Association, MultiCultural Development Center (MCDC), Cities at Work, Macalester College, St. Paul Area Council of Churches, Catholic Charities Volunteer Corps, Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits (MAP), and Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools. Has taught courses at three public or private universities.

“Mysticism and Practice in World Religions,” 3rd Annual Religion, Conflict and Peace Conference, Common Bond Institute, Spring 2011
“Mysticism and Practice in World Religions,” Tuesdays with a Scholar series, Hennepin County Library, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, February 2008
Talks on Islam, Sufism, world religions and cultural issues for Unity, Unitarian, Methodist and independent churches and for organizations including Murray Hill Catholic School and the American Association of University Women, 1995 – 2014.
Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication across Cultures, Supplemental Author, for Pierson Education, Inc., Spring 2009
Cultural Detective: Islam, Co-author, for Nipporica Associates, Fall 2006
Voices on the Waves: A Multicultural Comedy-Drama in Two Acts, MuslimWakeup! online magazine. Performed or workshopped at “Celebrating Interfaith Peace Work Around the World”, Duluth, November 2007 and SIETAR intercultural conferences 2004 and 2005
“Eyes” MuslimWakeup! August 2004
“Belief and Disbelief”, MuslimWakeup! and Naseeb.vibes online magazines, July 2004
“Culture Clash Dialogues” exercise, Training and Performance Source Book 2003, American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)
Keys to the Global Village: Unlocking Intercultural Relations (training manual and film script), University of St. Thomas, April 2000
“Medical Interactions: Immigrants, Refugees, Interpreters and Health Care Professionals” Cross Winds, three-part series, August 1999 – Spring 2000
“Communicating Across Cultures”, with Emmanuel Fru Doh, Ph.D., MCDC News: Sharing Diversity, 1998
“Minneapolis Medical Professionals and Female Circumcision: Intercultural Issues,” Cross Winds, three-part series, Summer 1998 – Winter 1999
“Arabic Corner,” “The Sheikh: The Human Fulfillment of the Quest,” and “The People of Nearness,” Qalbi quarterly, Winter 1997, Summer 1996 and Fall 1995.

2009 to Present – Content Expert, Minnesota Center for Professional Development
2000-2001 – Student of Color Ally Award, Multicultural Student Services, University of St. Thomas
1999 – Runner-up, “We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Dramas” comedy contest for multicultural comedy-drama Voices on the Waves, Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis

Lovesongs, Chants and Sufi Blues, CD, John and Karima and friends. Co-wrote and performed music and words drawn from the Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist traditions.

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