February issue 2009
Voices of Change
On January 16, The Second Floor organised a promotional event for the anthology And the World Changed, in collaboration with the Oxford University Press. With authors Kamila Shamsie, Muneeza Shamsie, Fahmida Riaz, Sehba Sarwar, Bina Shah and Nayyara Rehman present for their readings, the small T2F platform was jam-packed with a keen audience.
And the World Changed is a collection of short stories written in English by Pakistani women. The stories examine problems such as gender, marriage and war. It is the first book of its kind in Pakistan, featuring 25 writers, from the most renowned novelists, like Bapsi Sidhwa and Kamila Shamsie to new talent, like Nayyara Rehman. The authors present at the event read from their works, leaving the audience enthralled. Especially moving were the stories by Bina Shah and Kamila Shamsie.
After the readings, there was a small discussion on why the writers chose to write in English, which was answered by the editor of the book, Muneeza Shamsie. She explained that the purpose of writing in English was to create more awareness about Pakistani culture worldwide — English being the closest the world has to a universal language. For others, it was also a matter of convenience, since it is the language they are most familiar with.
Urdu poet Fahmida Riaz suggested that more English novels should be translated into Urdu, with Kamila Shamsie agreeing and sharing with the audience her disappointment over having her novels translated into Bosnian and French but not Urdu.