This book is Kishwar Naheed’s response to those who are quick to label a woman as bad. It is a searing indictment of a society that uses custom religion and even brute force to keep women down. She hits out head and fearlessly at social and political injustice and at the materialism and sham religiosity she sees around her. It’s what you would expect of one of Pakistan’s leading feminist poets known for her defiance and outspokenness. Born to a conservative family in pre partition India at a time when women were in such purdah that they could not show their hand to a hakim without dipping it in flour, Naheed saw these same women turn into political activists in the run up to partition. She too learned to do better early on to go to college like her brothers to express herself and at the age of 19 to marry the man of her choice. The marriage turned sour and it is an indication of her refreshing candor that she doesn’t gloss over her hurt and disappointment. Rich in literary historical and cultural allusion. A bad woman’s story is written in a punchy witty style that keeps the reader engaged and entertained form beginning to end.
Kishwar Naheed was born in Bulandshahr Uttar Pradesh Indian in 1940. Her family moved to Lahore during the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. She is one of the best known feminist poets of Pakistan. Her first collection of poetry, Lab-i-goya published in 1968 won the prestigious Adamjee Prize for literature. This collection of traditional ghazals was followed by a collection of nazms, translations of foreign poetry and many works in free verse. She also wrote for children and for the daily newspaper Jang published her autobiography in 1994 and in 2001 saw her collected poetic work released in a 1312 page volume entitled Dash-i-qais men Laila. Her daily columns in Jang were also collected and published in 1999. Her poetry has been translated into English and Spanish and her well known poem we sinful women gave its title to a path braking anthology of contemporary Urdu feminist poetry translated and edited by Rukshana Ahmad published in London by the Congress has 25 works by Kishwar Naheed in its collection and she recorded for the Library in Lahore in 1977. She held the position of Director General of the Pakistan National Council of Arts before her retirement edited a prestigious literary and organization named Hawwa whose goal is to help women without an independent income become financially independent through cottage industries and selling handicrafts.
Durdana Soomro is the author of Karachi Pleasure gardens of a Raj City (2007) and co-author of Bengal Raag an account of twins coming of age in Bangladesh in the period leading up to the 1971 war. Born in Dhaka she spent many heats in Amman, Riyadh, Istanbul and London. Her peripatetic life has led to an interest in languages. She studied Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and also speaks French. She has translated the work of prominent Pakistani writers form Urdu to English some included in the anthology Fault Lines (2008). She lives in Karachi and is an avid golfer.
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