ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Writing as Muslim Women

Bibi’s Room: Hyderabadi Women and Twentieth-Century Urdu Prose by Nazia Akhtar, Orient BlackSwan, 2022; pp 432, `995.

Nazia Akhtar’s Bibi’s Room: Hyd­erabadi Women and Twentieth-Century Urdu Prose narrates the life histories and writings of three women writers of 20th-century Hyderabad— Zeenath Sajida, Najma Nikhat, and Jeelani Bano. Through a sensitive and careful translation of short stories, articles and diaries written in Urdu, Akhtar’s book analyses the perspective, opinion and emotions of Muslim women amid the sociopolitical transition in the princely state of Hyderabad. While the state, since the 19th century, had undergone profound social transformations due to movements questioning the seclusion and strictures imposed upon Muslim women, the socio-economic discrimination against women was far from over. Writing at the cusp of these changes, Sajida, Nikhat, and Bano wrote about their lives, trials and tribulations, and the challenges they faced within homes as wives, daughters, and mothers; in institutions as writers, inte­llectuals, and professionals; and in the state as citizens and largely in the world as women. Their personal stories are acc­ompanied with stories of women and men from different walks of life struggling and navigating their way through the changes, in their lives and social ­order, after the transfer of power in the 1940s. These transitions are narrated in the first section of the book where the institutional, social and political chan­ges unfolding in 20th-century Hydera­badi society are documented. The subsequent chapters foreground the voices of the women writers with an in-depth analysis of these texts.

Capturing the Political Transformations in Urdu

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Updated On : 20th Mar, 2023
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