KLF: Revisiting our roots— South Asian fiction and politics in focus at the Karachi Literature Festival

Talking about fiction writing and the gender play in writing, the women on the ‘South Asian English fiction: Where mythology and history meet’ are on a roll. It’s only the day’s second session, and the audience is being given plenty to think about.

“Fiction writers are more interested in the myths of the future (like Star Trek), even if we are writing about the myths of the past,” Kamila Shamsie starts by talking about writing as mythmaking. In a time of colonialism, Shamsie feels post-colonial writers might be re-making language, but they still carry colonial burdens.

The conversation quickly moves to gender. Shamsie says written narratives are modeled on masculine narratives, because men are given priority in education departments and therefore associated with the written word. Women meanwhile are more easily associated with the oral narrative. 

Where does that leave the voices of women fiction writers? Bina Shah says, “In recording, the voices of women get erased because its the men writing the history.”

But then we have women like Shamsie, Shah and Khan fighting against that erasure, through their writing, and here at KLF, also through the oral narrative.

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