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Lahore with Love: Growing Up with Girlfriends Pakistani Style

Launch of Fawzia Afzal-Khan's memoir

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

A vibrant evening of film, dramatic readings and musical performance with
Richard Marriott, winds and arrangements
Eyal Maoz, guitar
John Hadfield, percussion
Fawzia Afzal-Khan, vocals and harmonium
Fawzia Afzal-Khan’s memoir of childhood in Pakistan weaves together memory and desire to create a tale that is marvelously compelling and endlessly entertaining, at once poignantly personal and richly political. . . . Readers of this book will inevitably be reminded of the work of Anais Nin, and this is a major achievement.
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
For women growing up in Pakistan’s patriarchal, segregated society, it is not surprising that female friendships take on a deep, enduring resonance. Yet what happens to these friendships? Hajira gives up art in deference to her husband’s success and later, at a dinner party, shoots herself. Saira marries a medical student when she is eighteen, has three children, lives through her husband’s affairs, and has a nervous breakdown. Madina, aggressive and foul-mouthed, abuses her husband and competes with Afzal-Khan in the theater and romantically. Samina’s body is found on a bench in the garden of a hospital, a suspected ‘honor killing’ by her brothers.
In Lahore with Love, Afzal-Khan shares intimate stories of these young girls, and later women, celebrating the strong bonds that helped shape her character. She balances this coming-of-age memoir with a clear-eyed look at a country that evokes both fierce loyalty and utter despair from its inhabitants. The author recalls growing up in the sixties and seventies in Lahore, living in a time of war, attending a Roman Catholic school as a Muslim middle-class teenager, and enduring the constant political upheaval that threatened her freedoms. Afzal-Khan eventually leaves Lahore and moves to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. She recounts the complex mix of longing and alienation that she feels upon returning to visit her homeland and friends.
Fawzia Afzal-Khan is University Distinguished Scholar, professor of English and director of Women and Gender Studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She is a published poet and playwright. Her books include Cultural Imperialism and the Indo-English Novel and A Critical Stage: The Role of Secular Alternative Theatre in Pakistan. She is the coeditor of Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out and The Pre-occupation of Postcolonial Studies.