Forthcoming

March 20; 7:45 am, B Nimri Aziz begins a new radio commentary on events around the globe and in the USA. Listen in at 99.5 fm, or online www.wbai.org where we are livestreamed.

March 8, Women's Day Radio Specials  10-11 am on WJFF Radio, 90.5 fm, and 11:am on WBAI, 99.5 New York: B. Nimri Aziz interviews director Amber Fares about her new film "Speed Sisters" --a profile of 5 Palestinian car racers. Orther segments are from 2009-2010 interviews with professional women in Damascus Syria, Nadia Khost and Nidaa Al-Islam.

 

 

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

 

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

 

 

 

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

 

 

Select Books

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan

by Rafia Zakaria
Reviewed by BN Aziz

Good writers are always looking for a new ways to tell a story. It’s not just the plot of a book, or the research; a story must be a seamlessly woven fabric.

Non-fiction writers are as occupied as novelists with the craft of writing. And Rafia Zakaria is such a writer. She has chosen a fairly simple but not customary way to tell the history of her country, Pakistan. It’s part memoir, part journalism, told through a series of specific events where women are central players. (As such, this is a welcome alternative to history as told through men’s achievements or follies.)

“The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan” opens before the author’s birth and far from Pakistan at her grandparents Bombay home prior to the partition of India and Pakistan in 1948, and moves through the founding of Pakistan, on to Bengal, part of which succeeded from Pakistan in the 1971 war to become Bangladesh, then the tumult within the region known today as Pakistan. From its pains and promises, Zakaria extracts political highlights, some of which had modest beginnings, often inspired by women, whether students or the daughters or wives of notable political leaders—from ordinary women to would-be prime-minister Benazir Bhutto.

Rafia’s family history is based on the author’s memory of her household in Karachi. Those passages offer the intimacy of Pakistani life with its marriages, festivals and visitors. The household and the neighborhood grow, fields receding as the city bursts with shops and houses, markets and traffic. This dimension of Pakistan, Zakaria juxtaposes in alternating chapters with events from Pakistan’s often tumultuous political history.

Within the family, Zakaria focuses on her aunt Amina whose carefully arranged marriage is fractured when, unable to bear a child, she is shunted aside to allow her husband to take a second wife. Although Zakaria never engages directly with Amina in this story, we assume the tragedy had a profound impact on the author and she uses it to understand deeper dynamics at work. She sees the fragility of her hapless aunt, relegated to a secondary position in an upstairs apartment, first as an expression of the vulnerability of women, but also as the tenuous process of Pakistan’s nationhood. First Pakistan was split off from India, then East Pakistan succeeded to become independent Bangladesh.

Zakaria’s approach to history is effective, providing both intimacy and momentum. We can see pain and promise in the drama of family life and on the national stage. We are introduced through the book to a cast of determined, talented and successful women.

I refer you my commentary on this book where I highlight the author’s concern with addressing misrepresentations of Asian culture though western media.

Published by Beacon Prsss, 2015



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