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  • MacLehose Press

My Pen is the Wing of a Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women

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Short stories

An anthology of contemporary women's short fiction in translation, featuring work by emerging women writers from across Afghanistan.

"My pen is the wing of a bird; it will tell you those thoughts we are not allowed to think, those dreams we are not allowed to dream"

Afghanistan has a rich literary history, but chronic instability, compounded now by the current crisis, have meant that women's voices have remained hidden. This anthology is the result of more than two years working Afghan women writers. They have strong, original, and unexpected stories to tell, but until now have had no opportunity to publish these locally or beyond their borders. Now it seems certain that this opportunity will be taken from them again.

"Men always want to speak on behalf of Afghan women, but now it is time for Afghan women to speak for themselves. Without fear, we want to share our stories with the world."

UNTOLD has been supporting them to develop their work, to write the stories they want to write, in their own words. These exciting contemporary voices from the country's two main linguistic groups (Pashto and Dari) explore a wide range of issues - family, work, tradition, sexuality, friendship, gender identity and real-life events - through original, vibrant, and tonally varied short fiction.

These stories come at a pivotal moment in Afghanistan's history, when international media interest in the country needs to be met by creative voices living in, speaking about, and writing from Afghanistan.

With an Introduction by BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet and an Afterword by Lucy Hannah

ABOUT UNTOLD

UNTOLD is a writer development programme for marginalised writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict. Afghanistan has millions of Pashto and Dari speakers with little or no local support for creative writing, literary translation, or literary editing. Support for writers has been hampered by cultural norms, free expression issues, chronic instability, and internal displacement. UNTOLD has been working one-to-one with women on their short stories, with English-speaking literary editors and translators working with the writers to realise the potential of their stories for publication both locally and globally in translation.

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Praise for My Pen is the Wing of a Bird: New Fiction by Afghan Women

  • A precious collection of work, the first and maybe last of its kind. My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird is a huge accomplishment - author of THE MERMAID OF BLACK CONCH

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