Literary Wives is an on-line book club that examines the meaning and role of wife in different books. Every other month, we post and discuss a book with this question in mind: What does this book s…
This week I received a very fine review on ‘The Disobedient Wife’ by the editor of The Fine Times Recorder, an online website on Arts and Culture in the South West UK.
She starts the review as follows:
‘THE “Stans” are mysterious and unknowable, strange lands of ancient cities with slender minarets, vast windswept plains, snow-topped impregnable mountain ranges and people who trace their lineage back to Genghis Khan and his golden horde.
That’s the romantic image – Marco Polo, the Silk Road, dramatic looking people hunting with eagles across the steppes of central Asia.
The reality in the 21st century is, of course, very different. Decades of dominance by the USSR and the inexorable Soviet machine that sought to eradicate cultural differences, turned the “stans” into poor satellites, dumping grounds for all the things that Mother Russia wanted to forget about.’
The Disobedient Wife is a compelling read, and a masterful first novel – as well as the first novel about modern post-Soviet Tajikistan.’
To read further, please go to the link below:
The Disobedient Wife was published in November 2015 by The Cinnamon Press, UK. It won their First Book Award 2014.
Sandra Cisneros puts it perfectly:
“You can’t please everyone. It’s the best I can do, it’s important to me and I put it together. I hope my readers like it. If it’s not their prescription they can put it back.”
As I sit down this weekend I am taking stock of the coming week in the UK, a week when I will be launching my debut novel in three venues, speaking on two radio stations and traveling to my hometown to promote my debut novel.
I am frightened of negative reactions to the book but I soothe my fears with Cisneros’ proposition that books are our medicine. Not every book suits everyone, just as not all prescriptions will cure our ills. I even find that depending on the mood I am in, I can feel like reading a certain book or not. In times of stress I enjoy soft yoga classes but in happier times I would rather go for an exhilerating run with my dog. And just as readers are free to read my book (or not!) I, as a writer, am free to write.
This week I will be thanking my fate, the luck that led to my being born and bred in Britain. In the U.K, creativity is still nurtured. Fantastic art organizations like The Dorset Writer’s Network and Artsreach are funded to support writers so that people like me have the chance to share their books with others. Organisations like my publisher, Cinnamon Press are supported to publish innovative fiction. Without this support to small independent press houses, most of the most interesting creative writing in the UK at the moment would never be seen by the general public.
I also love the U.K because it is a place where free expression is closely guarded and protected. I feel privileged that unlike aspiring writers from Tajikistan, I can write my stories without fear of imprisonment or exile. This will be uppermost in my mind as I attend events hosted by my Publisher and by local people with bookshops in my home county, Dorset. The Disobedient Wife is the first Literary Fiction to come from Modern-day Tajikistan in decades, not because there are no local writers, but because they are not allowed to write or publish freely. I remind myself daily to be grateful at what is no more than luck. The luck to be born in a place where I can express myself without fear for my life or for the lives of my loved ones.
During the week I work part time with refugee men at a day centre in Rome, trying to find them jobs, no easy task in this city. People often ask why migrants come to Italy without prospects of work, with hard-earned qualifications and degrees that will never count in Europe. Sometimes, they left much better material lives in their home country. I met a civil engineer from Pakistan last week and asked him why he had left a relatively good job as a land surveyor in Islamabad. He frowned and raised his hands in a gesture of despair tinged with disdain. He clearly felt that my question was inane.
“I cannot continue to live there, where I am from”, he said. “I come from the Tribal areas under Taliban control and have no freedom.”
“But you worked in Islamabad, I said. He shook his head.
“It does not matter, they reached me.”
He was angry, his fury at the politics of his homeland and frustration at the penury of his present circumstances oozing from every pore.
“I did not know I would be homeless and jobless here,” he said. “But I still want to stay here, in a country where I do not fear for my life.”
I thought about the price he had paid for his freedom. It is the same for Eritreans, Afghans and other refugees, many highly qualified accountants, office managers, logisticians and engineers now looking for jobs in Rome as kitchenhands, cleaners and carers; the most menial work; the work that locals do not want to do. Undoubtedly, their life savings line the pockets of human traffickers, the schooling that their parents scrimped and saved for, wasted. It is the price they pay for the freedom we Europeans take for granted.
Just after I finished this article I heard of the arrest of Hossam Bahgat, a well known journalist in Egypt, detained for his writing. I hope he is released soon.
I am happy to report that Inpress Books have published an interview about ‘The Disobedient Wife’ on their website. The questions focused on my academic and working influences: how social anthropology/ research shapes my writing of fiction. Please click on the link below to read it:
Are you feeling disobedient today? Then do NOT come to any of my events this autumn.
I have three booked for this autumn:
London and Dorset County in the United Kingdom:
10 Nov, 2015 7pm: A Book Launch and Readings at the Made in Greenwich Gallery, hosted by Cinnamon Press, 324 Creek Road, Greenwich. I will read from my novel and another author Kay Syrad will launch her new novel, ‘Send’. Free with refreshments http://www.madeingreenwich.co.uk/gallery
11th Nov, 2015 7pm: A Book Launch at Gullivers Bookshop at 47 High Street, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 1HS. Free book signing with wine and nibbles http://www.gulliversbookshop.co.uk
13th Nov, 2015 4pm: A Presentation, Interview and Signing at Beatons Tearoom and Bookshop, 2 Market Place, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7EB (£6.99 per ticket with £2 off copy of book in aid of The Corn Exchange Challenge) http://www.beatonstearooms.co.uk/events1.php
20 Nov, 2015, 7pm: Open Door Bookshop, 23 Via della Lungatevere, Trastevere, Rome https://www.facebook.com/events/476711712500206/ Book signing. Free wine
4th Dec, 2015 7-9pm: Ango-American Bookstore, Via Della Vite, Piazza Spagna, Rome: https://www.facebook.com/events/147776065576449/ book signing. free
10th Dec, 2015 10:30am (by invitation only): A reading at the Residence of the Ambassador to Chile, Rome (email me annikastanley at hotmail dot com). Book signing. Free refreshments