My pen is the wing of a bird

Day 23 – the colour of this book cover is as mesmerising as its title.

I came across a review of this collection of short stories by Afghan women, more or less by accident today, as it was embedded inside a podcast reviewing an entirely different book and not mentioned in the write up.

In order to publish these stories in the English speaking world, those involved had to find translators who spoke Pashto and Dari and of course English and were willing to translate literary material for which there is not a great demand in Afghanistan. The editors put out a call in 2019 for stories and were surprised to receive nearly a hundred submissions.

Lucy Hannah on the left, is the one I heard interviewed along with two of the authors

Later in 2021 they put out another request using posters asking for stories from women in even more remote regions. More than 300 submissions were received. One lady sent her handwritten story from a province on the border with Turkmenistan, by taking a photo and sending it to her brother’s whatsapp address. He then forwarded it through three other people to the editors. It has now been published in the collection. The editor reported that she had just been able to send a photo back to that woman, of her story in the book lying open on a table in a well known publishing house.

I find it astounding that these women have the ability to write given the hardships they endure. It took one lady twenty years to be able to start writing because she felt so empty and broken. Lucy Hannah said that short stories were the preferred and easier format, given the ‘fractured and uncertain environment’ they live in. There is apparently a long history of short stories and poems in Afghanistan.

Fortunately it appears that through writing these stories these women have been able to form a community to encourage and support one another. Even though they are now physically scattered, they somehow keep in touch.

Their strength and courage offers a message of hope to the world.



14 thoughts on “My pen is the wing of a bird

  1. It never ceases to astound me how powerful words and language can be in the liberation of our selves, one another, and the world. I’m going to have to check this book out. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am going to need this book!! I love how writing their stories has brought these women together to encourage one another – just more of the magic of writing. Our stories knit us together 🙂 Thank you for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, Fran. Yes it’s amazing that they can now keep in touch, the editor was very definite about that on the podcast and I’m sure they need that now and that’s the power of social media. I love your phrase that stories knit us together, perfect!


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