Untold – Weiter Schreiben Afghanistan
In cooperation with KfW Stiftung and the London-based initiative "Untold," we are publishing letters and stories by Afghan women writers on our literature portal weiterschreiben.jetzt.
The first literary texts and letter exchanges were created during 2021. From September 2022, one year after the Taliban took power, we will successively publish new texts in order to make women writers from Afghanistan heard abroad.
In the new correspondences and short stories, three women writers have their say: Maliha Naji from Kabul, Raha Mozaffari from Herat and from the northern Afghan province of Balkh Fatema Key. For the correspondences they are partnering with Dilek Güngör, Elke Schmitter and Svenja Leiber, respectively. For security reasons, the Afghan authors publish under pseudonyms.
The letters and stories speak of despair about the dramatic deterioration of their living conditions and prospects since the Taliban took power. But they contain also a direct challenge of these circumstances and the powers that be: the spirit of resistance and courage of the women of Afghanistan, their dreams and longings and their refusal to be silenced again.
The project kicked off back in 2021 with the publication of literary correspondences between three tandems, each consisting of a female Afghan writer and a German-speaking one. These were Freshta Ghani & Daniela Dröscher, Maryam Mahjube & Ilma Rakusa and Batool & Marica Bodrožić. Their correspondence began in the summer of 2021, even before the withdrawal of the US troops and their allies in mid-August. Over the course of the year, the exchanges bore witness to the dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power and reflected on them from the perspective of female writers.
The „Write Afghanistan“ project of the Untold initiative builds on the digital writing workshops of the Untold initiative, in which promising women writers in Afghanistan develop literary strategies together with editors and translators. Selected women writers then participate in our project Writing On. The project gives room to previously unheard voices, shares their perspectives and makes their stories known. In this way, it aims to contribute to transcultural understanding of Afghanistan.
The cooperation opens doors for Afghan authors to the German-language literary scene and gives readers rare insights into the cultural world of Afghanistan. Decades of instability in the Hindu Kush have resulted in too little space for creative expression and networking. Creative industries such as publishing were practically non-existent even before the Taliban took power, since then there has been no possibility of publishing in the country. Especially in the current situation, the participating authors keep telling us how important it is to have a common framework in which they can continue to write.
Untold is a London-based support program for female writers in areas of crisis and conflict, led by Lucy Hannah. Through Untold, writers who are currently unable to share their stories beyond their immediate communities in their home countries have the opportunity to further develop their writing, share their stories with a wider audience in their own language, and connect with a new, global audience through translation. Untold is also supported by the Bagri Foundation and the British Council.
Untold – Writing On Afghanistan is an initiative of KfW Foundation in cooperation with Untold – Write Afghanistan and Weiter Schreiben (Writing On).