DEMAND for a unique new book has fast-tracked its publication to today (30 January)… 12 days ahead of schedule.
After six months of writing and production the clamour for Asian Voices was so great that its publisher released it worldwide as a Kindle e-book this morning, rather than wait for the scheduled 11 February launch.
The paperback version of the book will be published next week – also well ahead of schedule.
Divided by partition, war and politics, but united by creativity, brilliance and common humanity, Asian Voices has brought together 20 emerging writers from across South Asia to shine a light on their diverse societies.
In 37,000 words, across more than 250 pages and two dozen images, these contributors paint graphic pictures of love, beauty, loss, patriarchy, disease and death in their respective countries of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
From cool Kabul in the north, through Karachi and Kolkata to the searing heat of Hyderabad in the south, their tales in poetry and prose are compelling.
The writers include an artist from Lahore, an engineer from Mumbai, a psychologist from Delhi, a social reformer from Jaipur, two 12th grade school students, plus many more.
The project has been pulled together by a retired British newspaper editor.
Most of the writers have, until now, only seen their work published on social media or in short order paperbacks.
They are effusive in their excitement about this new book.
Nitika Das, a student from Jodhpur explains: “This book is the output of one dream shared by 20 writers.
“I believe everyone in this world is a writer, everyone has a story to tell… everyone knows how to put it into words. All we need is a pen and some blank paper.”
Fahmida Shaikh, an oceanographer from Bhiwandi believes that the diversity of the individual writers helped shape the book: “As individuals we are all so very different; different cultures, ages, nationalities and genders, but as writers we have been able to form an incredible bond that reflects the many ways that, as humans we have common needs, hopes, dreams and hearts.”
Sakshi Walia, an English Literature student from Amity University in New Delhi adds: “Together, I believe our words are shining a blinding light on the reality of being human, in a world of seeming chaos.”
Pratik Arti Prakash, an electronic engineer from Mumbai sees a common theme: “You could use all the milk in the world to paint it white, still deep down the canvas is black. We learn from everyone but mostly fail to learn from ourselves.”
Agathaa Shelling, a 12th grade school student from Ahmedabad completes many sentiments: “For all that has lived the ruins, it is art. The people, the poetry and the words. It’s beautiful how, the boundaries have embraced love so beautifully.”
Fellow writer and interior designer Pratibha Aasat from Hyderabad in southern India says: “All our words are powerful emotions expressing varied feelings, the silent whispers of hearts, connecting every soul and thoughts, so vivid that they represent a complete lived life… to last in the memoirs forever.”
Nic Outterside from Wolverhampton, England is the editor and publisher of Asian Voices.
“I have edited many publications over the years,” says Nic, “But none has been as challenging and exciting as this. I am very lucky to have so many amazingly talented and beautiful people contributing to this hugely diverse project.
“I hope all the readers get as much pleasure reading this book, as I did editing it.”
Minnie Rai, a writer and 26-year-old refugee from Kabul, who now lives in London, sums up the ethos of Asian Voices: “We don’t become by knowing… we become by doing.
“It is in the present we live and share diversity from within outwards. Through love and death we learn the language of war within us that separates us from the truth that sits beside our heart. When we share that truth, we become one… Asian Voices,” she adds.
Asian Voices – an anthology of new poetry and prose from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is available from Amazon at £3 a copy (280IR).
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