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

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Quercus, 2022 - Afghanistan - 256 pages
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"Powerful, profound and deeply moving, new fiction by Afghan women writers will expand your mind and elevate your heart" ELIF SHAFAK

"[An] arresting collection . . . Written in simple, direct prose and offers vivid snapshots of a country beset by war and violence . . . It seems more important than ever to read the work of these courageous writers" Financial Times

"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"

A woman's fortitude saves her village from disaster. A teenager explores their identity in a moment of quiet. A petition writer reflects on his life as a dog lies nursing her puppies. A tormented girl tries to find love through a horrific act. A headmaster makes his way to work, treading the fine line between life and death.

"A precious collection of work, the first and maybe the last of its kind. My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird is a huge accomplishment" MONIQUE ROFFEY, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch

My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird
is a landmark collection: the first anthology of short fiction by Afghan women. Eighteen writers tell stories that are both unique and universal - stories of family, work, childhood, friendship, war, gender identity and cultural traditions.

"This book reminds us that everyone has a story. Stories matter; so too the storytellers. Afghan women writers, informed and inspired by their own personal experiences, are best placed to bring us these powerful insights into the lives of Afghans and, most of all, the lives of women. Women's lives, in their own words - they matter." Lyse Doucet in her Introduction

This collection introduces extraordinary voices from the country's two main linguistic groups (Pashto and Dari) with original, vital and unexpected stories to tell, developed over two years through UNTOLD's Write Afghanistan project. My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird comes at a pivotal moment in Afghanistan's history, when these voices must be heard.

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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About the author (2022)

Lyse Doucet is the BBC's Chief International Correspondent and a senior presenter with BBC World News television and BBC World Service radio. She is regularly deployed to present special news coverage from the field and report across the BBC's domestic and global outlets. Lyse spent fifteen years as a BBC foreign correspondent with postings in the Middle East, West Asia and West Africa. She has been reporting from Afghanistan since 1988 when she lived in Kabul and has been a frequent visitor ever since. Lyse was nominated to the Order of Canada in 2018 and received an OBE in the Queen's Honours list in 2014 for her services to broadcasting.

Lucy Hannah specialises in setting up and delivering creative initiatives. She is founder and director of Untold Narratives CIC. She's also a Visiting Research Fellow at King's College, London, and a Director of the BOCAS Lit Fest in Trinidad.

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