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Against the Canon: Urdu Feminist Writing

March 2020

Farazeh Syed, Attire (cropped), acrylic on canvas, 4 x 5 ft, 2016. By arrangement with the artist.

Image: Farazeh Syed, “Attire” (cropped), acrylic on canvas, 4 x 5 ft, 2016. By arrangement with the artist.

This month we present six important but underrecognized Urdu feminist writers. These writers—all outside the established canon—explore holiday observances and quotidian exchanges, charged relationships and domestic conflicts, confirming the great variety of faces, tones, concerns, and aesthetics within the genre. Hijab Imtiaz reflects on a new beginning. Miraji investigates Sappho’s life and poetry, while Khalida Hussain’s household members confront a domestic intruder. And in poetry, Sara Shagufta considers the elements, Parveen Shakir deflects a suitor, and Yasmeen Hameed challenges conventions worldly and otherwise. Guest editor Haider Shahbaz and others collaborate on an illuminating introduction. 

A yellow rose lying on a stone surface
Photo by Sindy Strife on Unsplash
Red earth has broken apart leaving a cliff-like overhand with exposed tree roots against a forest...
Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash