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Stories with Oil Stains
The World of Women ‘Digest’ Writers in Pakistan
How do women fiction writers articulate lived realities and imagined scenarios of being a woman in Pakistan through Urdu popular fiction (digest stories) and television plays? How do they form bonds of friendship in the absence of physical proximity (since readers and writers rarely meet each other)? How do they respond to notions of their writing as frivolous entertainment? In answering such questions, this book provides an alternative paradigm for women’s voices. Drawing on twenty months of fieldwork conducted in four urban cities and villages in two provinces in Pakistan, this work presents an ethnographic account of women fiction writers’ engagement with the digest genre (published in commercial monthly magazines) and the community (of readers and writers) formed around it. These fictional stories are extremely popular. However, they are socially perceived as ‘low brow’ and disavowed as having no literary merit. In this context, this research traces the specific forms attachment, articulation, and agency take in the lives of women whose stories resonate with many, but who also face the critique of not being authentic writers.
Kiran Ahmed is Assistant Professor, Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad. She has also been a Research Associate (Gender) at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Ahmed holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and Masters’ degrees in International Relations, Anthropology, and Philosophy from Pakistan, USA, and Canada respectively.