Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reviews of my short story 'The Breast'

My short story 'The Breast' is included in this anthology published by Harper Collins, India. This mini-review is from Women's Writing.

Neither Night nor Day
Thirteen stories by women writers from Pakistan
Edited by Rakhshanda Jalil
Harper Collins
Rs 250

Soniah Kamal raises the bar with the book's sixth story, The Breast, a riveting tale about a woman whose breast is about to be cut off for a crime she's committed: nursing a stranger's baby after her own baby girl was lost to infanticide. From hereon the collection vastly improves. Sorayya Khan artfully immortalizes the cruelties of Partition in Five Queen's Street, in which an adolescent girl is frozen with fear as she watches the kidnap of her Hindu neighbor by an angry Muslim mob. Bina Shah's heart-wrenching 'The Wedding of Sundri', a story set in pastoral Pakistan that culminates in the honor killing of a 12-year-old bride, leaves readers gasping for breath. Although offering an unadulterated glimpse of present-day Pakistan, the second half of this book ends up showing Indian readers that they still have much in common with their neighbors to the north.

In Dawn Pakistan.
REVIEW: Her side of the story
Reviewed by Akbar S. Ahmed

.... Next up is Soniah Kamal's The Breast. Kamal is a very talented writer, one who reaches the heights of creativity in this allegory. Her protagonist faces the wrath of the cruel tribunal that rules her land, and they literally want their pound of flesh. Or seven, as she explains — her breast is to be cut off, for the ultimate crime of suckling another’s child after her own, a girl, was taken away to be buried. Smart, captivating and well-written, this short parable is certainly one of the best stories in this grouping, and the twist at the end just makes it more gripping. read review


In the Tribune India.
review by Priyanka Singh

Then there is The Breast by Soniah Kamal which talks of the misery, the whole gamut of tortuous feelings a mother, a woman can possibly undergo in a matter of a few hours.

It depicts the deadness of a mother when she is told that her baby girl has to be put away. That her little one was asleep when they laid her down. That she continued to sleep even when the first shovel of grit fell on her face sandwiched between tiny fists ... "bold in her crying silence".

It talks of a tribunal that is merciless and pronounces that a breast has to be butchered only because a mother wanted to satisfy her maternal instinct to feel tiny lips drawing nourishment from her, no matter if it wasn’t her own baby.

Truly, a story that wrenches the heart and leaves it aching with sorrow because for someone it may not be a story alone, but a dark fear that has to be endured.

read review here


For All Women Foundation said...

I would like to read this book. I'm glad more people are writing about dishonor killings.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Anjali said...

You go girl!

on Life and Literature said...

thanx, Anjali!

Olive Chancellor said...

That's great -- I'll check this out and order it for our library if we don't already have it!