Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasrin was born in Bangladesh in 1962; she is a gynecologist and anesthesiologist as well as both a novelist and poet. Much of her literary work is strongly feminist, seeking to overcome the limitations placed on women by fundamental Islamic political elements in her country. Her novel Shame was banned by the Bangledeshi government in 1993. As the result of claims -- which she has contended were misrepresentations of her actual statements -- that the Koran should be revised, fundamentalistic Moslem factions called for her death, a situation which led to her leaving her country for Sweden in 1994; she has lived in exile since, and continues to be an active voice for women particularly (but not necessarily exclusively) in Moslem culture. A much more detailed biography is available on her personal website as is a selection of her poems ; "Another Life" is typical of her work:

Women spend the afternoon squatting on the porch
picking lice from each other's hair,
they spend the evening feeding the little ones
and lulling them to sleep in the glow of the bottle lamp.
The rest of the night they offer their backs
to be slapped and kicked by the men of the house
or sprawl half-naked on the hard wooden cot --

Crows and women greet the dawn together.
Women blow into the oven to start the fire,
tap on the back of the winnowing tray with five fingers
and with two fingers pick out stones.

Women spend half their lives picking stones from the rice.

Stones pile up in their hearts,
there's no one to touch them with two fingers . . .

(Translated by Carolyne Wright)

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