HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
A contemporary collection of Asian writing
Edited by Farhana Shaikh
Paperback published 30 October 2010, £8.99
New writing from thirty eight different authors and poets some with emerging voices provides a rich feast of Asian Writing in this anthology. The Forward by Claire Chambers Sen. Lecturer in English Literature Leeds Metropolitan University who specializes in South –Asian Literature sets the scene. She states that ‘South-Asian writers are producing the most nuanced and politically engaged writing in the world today’ and encouragingly adds that British Asians will consider writing as ‘a viable career choice.’
This anthology has been ably edited by Farhana Shaikh. Her passion for showcasing Asian Writing is evident with the success of her online project The Asian Writer. Here she has brought together both published and aspiring writers from across the globe to write on the theme of ‘Celebration’. The book also has a selection of interviews with authors like Roopa Farooki, Rana DasGupta, Moshin Hamid, and Nikita Lalwani. The third part of the book has an in depth interview with Lorella Belli a Literary Agent whose advice to new writers is well worth reading. In the final part twenty authors give their advice some cryptic like ‘Scare yourself.’ ‘Read, read and read more’ and some longer ones for new writers.
As with all anthologies this has some excellent pieces of prose and poetry. I commend some of the poems, like R. Hossain’s ‘I am a child of the Colony’ ‘Valentine’, by Paul Lobo Portgues, and ‘Celebration of Life’ by S.S Vikram. The authors of the short stories worked with the word celebration in its broadest sense. ‘Twilight Sojourn’ by Fehmida Zakeer was superb, the dream sequence in the mosque was well written and the anguish of the woman’s pain beautifully expressed. Sharmila Chauhan’s ‘Tiny Steps’ was excellent ending with a hopeful reconciliation. The editor’s own contribution entitled ‘Coming Home’ was a moving tale of the protagonist in the story coming to terms with the loss of her mother.
This is the first anthology of Asian Writing comprising mainly of British Asian Writers that I’ve read and I am very impressed. Farhana Shaikh is right to have taken the brave step to bring new Asian voices to the forefront. With an Asian name people expect the next Salman Rushdie or Adiga, a prize winner to come from the subcontinent. Perhaps it is time to nurture and encourage talents here in the UK.
For further information please contact Farhana Shaikh at Dahlia Publishing on 0116 2741266 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also availble on Amazon.