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Announcing the publication of our anthology: MIGHTIER

Updated: Mar 14




We are proud to announce publication of our first Anthology in collaboration with Reverie Publishers. Featuring 29 stories and essays from 5 years of the Prize, the book is available online from the publishers and soon at Pakistani bookstores.


The featured writers are: Aisha Chapra, Aisha Khan, Alia Ahmed, Alishae Abeed, Aliya Farrukh Shaikh, Amna Chaudhry, Arsala Jameel Faruqui, Asma Mani, Ayesha Alizeh Arbab, Dur-e-Aziz Amna, Hareem Khan, Kehkashan Khalid, Laila Ghaffar, Maham Javaid, Maria Khan, Musfira Shaffi, Natasha Japanwala, Nuwera Akmal, Raniya Hosain, Sadia Khatri, Saher Hasnain, Saima Altaf, Saira Mahmood, Sakina Hassan, Sana Mohsin, Sara Khan, Sofea Khan, Sundus Saleemi and Tamreez Inam.


The fabulous Cover Art for the book is by one of our featured writers, Kehkashan Khalid.


FOREWORD

There were two main reasons I wanted to establish a literary prize for women in Pakistan. First, it was to honour the memory of my mother, Zeenat, who was an avid reader, a committed feminist and an activist in the Pakistan Movement. She firmly believed, as do I, that Pakistani women had stories to tell. Second, I was convinced, despite many naysayers, that there was real talent to be discovered and that given the opportunity for their voices to be heard, Pakistani women writers would dazzle us with their skills.

 

Five years on, I am gratified to see the Zeenat Haroon Rashid Writing Prize for Women firmly embedded in the Pakistani literary landscape. This anthology is a testament to the excellent writing that the Prize has uncovered and promoted, and also to the bravery of women writers who have not flinched from tackling painful and controversial subjects.

 

The selected writing in this anthology comprises both fiction and non-fiction as the ZHR Prize (after its inaugural year) has alternated between the two on an annual basis. Many of the submissions to the competition, whether fiction or non-fiction, touch on themes common to the lives of women: love and marriage, mothers and motherhood, misogyny, mental well-being, rites of passage, body image – so we look for writers with original voices and work that presents an unexpected slant on these well-worn subjects. The writing in this collection is (variously) moving, romantic, angry, surreal, satirical and funny – but at the heart of each piece lies a dissection of Pakistani culture and society and a real sense of place.

 

Each piece has been presented as originally submitted to the competition, without any major edits so that it can be judged in all its rawness and power. Reasons of space meant that we had to make difficult choices between equally worthy candidates for inclusion, so we reverted to our default position of attempting to present a diversity of subject matter, style and opinion. Further fearless and excellent writing is available to read in the archive on our website www.zhrwritingprize.com 

 

The Prize owes a debt of gratitude to many people who have supported the venture, entirely pro-bono. It is these people who have ensured its success and relevance.

 

There are many writers, academics and editors who have agreed to be on our judging panels over the years: Moni Mohsin, Muneeza Shamsie, Irfan Hussain, Ameena Saiyyid, Sadia Shephard (2019), Ahmed Rashid, Alice Albinia, Homa Khaleeli (2020), Kamila Shamsie, Hanif Kureishi, Maryam Wasif Khan, Faiza Khan (2021), Arifa Akbar, Carla Power, Saeed Shah, Wajiha Hyder (2022), Aamina Ahmed, Mohammed Hanif, Sarwat Yasmeen Azeem, Shandana Minhas (2023). Their stature has lent the Prize the credibility that has made it the literary touchstone that it is today.

 

Thanks also go to the organisations and individuals that have provided the vital oxygen of publicity and their creative flair in their promotion of the Prize: Amber Saigol and Hasan Zaidi of the Dawn Media Group, Jamal and Kamal Mir of Prestige Communications and Selina Rashid Khan of Lotus PR. Their input and support has seen the sparks of fresh talent kindle to flame.

 

The incredible Safinah Danish Elahi and Reverie Publishers have been instrumental in the realisation of this anthology. This book is due in great part to Safinah’s professionalism, integrity and literary nous in seeking out great writing in Pakistan. It has been a pleasure collaborating with her in the editing of this book.

 

A heartfelt vote of thanks also to my daughter Shan Vahidy, who not only has encouraged me and supported the Prize over the years but has also served each year as a member of the judging panel

 

And finally to the writers featured here who have offered up their talent to make this book possible. You remind your peers that they are not alone and serve as an inspiration to those who will come after you. Thank you.

 

Syra Rashid Vahidy

Founder, ZHR Writing Prize for Women






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