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My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird

New Fiction by Afghan Women

Lyse Doucet Lucy Hannah



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Maclehose Press
01 March 2022
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


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.
Afterword by:  
Introduction by:  
Imprint:   Maclehose Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 128mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   192g
ISBN:   9781529422214
ISBN 10:   1529422213
Pages:   256
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

Reviews 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 -- Monique Roffey * author of THE MERMAID OF BLACK CONCH *

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