Book review by Cheryl Thompson – My Pen is the Wing of a Bird


My pen is the wing of a bird by Various Afghan women


Reserve the book here.


My Pen is the Wing of a Bird is a collection of 23 stories written by 18 women and is the first ever anthology of short fiction by Afghan women in English translation. This was the culmination of two years’ work, and the team behind it had to overcome many difficulties, including the translation from the Dari and Pashto languages, and the onset of Covid-19 in 2020.

Even more crucially, the Taliban’s return to power and the fall of Kabul in 2021 meant that some of the authors went into hiding, and others fled the country. However, they all continued to write despite enormous obstacles. They all wanted to be read and to have their voices heard.

There is a quote on the cover stating that this collection is “Powerful, profound and deeply moving, these stories will expand your mind and elevate your heart.”

I totally agree that it is powerful, profound, and deeply moving, but I found the stories were too sad, and too reflective of the realities of life in Afghanistan to “elevate my heart”. Despite these stories all being works of fiction, I felt strongly that someone, at some time, somewhere in Afghanistan has lived that life, had that experience, and suffered through that traumatic event.

My two favourite stories in the collection were “Blossom” and “The Most Beautiful Lips in the World” and both were indeed inspired by tragic real-life events.

The stories all cover the universal themes of family, love, and friendship, but more importantly, show what it is to be an Afghan woman living under the limitations and the harshness imposed on their lives due to the culture and religious practises of their country. Sadly, such is the situation in Afghanistan, the authors cannot be profiled because of the danger to their lives.

As mentioned above, this book is indeed “Powerful, profound and deeply moving” and I certainly agree that “these stories will expand your mind.”


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