Books or Fish Curry

Selina Hossain and Anwara Syed Haque raised the roof at the Bangla Academy Auditorium this afternoon with their Feminst Fiction panel, Narir Dekha Narir Lekha. Hossain and Haque are both beloved Bangla novelists, and it was a thrill to see them together on stage.  Haque ended the session by telling all the aspiring women in the audience, “forget about your domestic responsibilities and stick to your writing. After you die, people may read your books, but no one will remember how good your fish curry was.”


Outside, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s novella, Sultana’s Dream was magnificently brought to life on the steps of Bordoman House, the colonial building that sits in the middle of the Bangla Academy.  Sultana’s Dream, written in 1905, is one of the earliest depictions of a feminist utopia. It tells the story of a place called Ladyland, where women rule the world and men are kept sequestered in mardanas (in Sakhawat’s time, women were relegated to a part of the house called the “zenana”). The women use mirrors and solar power to create a peaceful and harmonious world, free of war, suffering, and—Sakhawat’s bugbear—laziness.