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 literary texts and letter exchanges were written in the course of 2021.
The project kicks off with the publication of three literary correspondences, each between a female Afghan author and a German-speaking one. The writers are Freshta Ghani & Daniela Dröscher, Maryam Mahjube & Ilma Rakusa, and Batool & Marica Bodrožić.
Their correspondence began in the summer of 2021, before the US and its allies withdrew in mid-August. Throughout the duration of the project, they bear witness to the dramatic changes in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power and reflect on these changes from the perspective of female authors. For safety reasons, the correspondences could not be published in the beginning. Now the authors are publishing under pseudonyms.
The writers exchange touching, astonishingly open and poetic stories about their writing, their family backgrounds, their readings and artistic role models. The Afghan authors speak of great fear among the civilians, particularly the women, of not being able to leave their homes or having to flee their homeland – „fragile lionesses“ with broken hearts and backpacks full of dreams.
„Write Afghanistan“ builds on the digital writing workshops of the „Untold“ initiative, in which promising female writers in Afghanistan develop literary strategies together with editors and translators. Selected writers then participate in our project, Weiter Schreiben. The project provides a platform for previously unheard voices to be heard, to share their perspectives, and to make their stories known. Thus, the project contributes to a transcultural understanding of Afghanistan.
The cooperation provides Afghan authors with access to the German-language literary scene and gives readers in this country 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. Even before the Taliban seized power, creative industries such as the publisher’s trade were practically non-existent, and since then there has been no possibility for publishing in the country. Especially in the current situation, the participating authors continue to tell us how important it is to have a common framework in which they can carry on writing.
Freshta Ghani, born in Afghanistan, fled to Tajikistan in 2021, where she currently lives. She studied law and political science and works as a writer and journalist, mainly for radio. She is a member of the Association of Women Writers in Afghanistan.
Maryam Mahjube lives with her family in Afghanistan. She studied law and has worked in the field of education for women and girls until Taliban came to power.
Batool, born in Afghanistan, fled to Rome in 2021 after stops in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. She taught psychology at Kabul University until the Taliban seized power. She is an author, journalist, and sexologist, and has advocated for the rights of the LGBT*Q community in Afghanistan.
Daniela Dröscher, born in Munich in 1977, writes prose, theater plays, and essays. She has received numerous awards, including the Anna Seghers Prize, a fellowship from the German Literature Fund and the Berlin Senate, and the Robert Gernhardt Prize. Her novel Lügen über meine Mutter will be published in 2022.
Ilma Rakusa, born in Slovakia in 1946 to a Hungarian mother and a Slovenian father. She lives in Zurich as an author, critic and translator of Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Hungarian and French. Her literary work includes poetry, prose and the memoir Mehr Meer. She has received numerous awards, including the Swiss Book Prize (2009), the Berlin Literature Prize (2017), and the Kleist Prize (2019).
Marica Bodrožić, born in 1973 in Svib/Dalmatia, today Croatia, lives in Berlin. She writes poems, novels, stories, essays, which always move in the resonant space of ethics and aesthetics and draw from a spiritually oriented linguistic consciousness. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the European Prize for Literature (2013) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Prize for Literature (2015). Her book Die Arbeit der Vögel. Seelenstenogramme will be published in 2022.
More literary correspondences and short stories by Afghan female authors – both in their native language Pashto or Persian and in German – will be published successively on weiterschreiben.jetzt.
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).