January 30 2015
Who will be the literary stars of tomorrow? An all-women produced and compiled publication seeks to showcase them…
by CHAYYA SYAL
A NEW short story anthology, “Beyond the Border” is a beautifully assembled collection of 13 stories that encompasses various Asian identities, both among the diaspora and the ‘motherland’ in a sophisticated and exquisite manner.
Each story touches on an aspect of life to which anyone can relate. The anthology covers a wide range of topics such as love, becoming a mother, getting inside the mind of a serial killer, rape, sexual abuse, sexuality and online dating.
The beauty of each story was that you could never quite predict the ending of each one.
In many instances I found myself completely shocked by some of the endings because I simply didn’t see them coming.
This element of “Beyond the Border” is what made me want to sit up late into the night reading the stories.
The anthology is a refreshing and a promising read. It is not every day that I have the privilege to read sensitively written literature by British Asian women.
When I read the title, a part of me felt reassured that I wouldn’t be reading cringe worthy stories about forbidden lovers in monsoons, runaway Asian brides, rebellious Asian teens smoking behind the bike sheds and dictator-like Asian fathers…
However, a couple of the stories did conform to the stereotypical Asian dilemmas that we have come to expect, an unwanted arranged marriage and a dictator-like Asian father, but the twist in these stories made them feel original.
If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be Jocelyn Watson’s X as I could really relate to the themes of platonic love and loss of a sibling. ‘X‘ made me think, laugh and ultimately finished with me bawling my eyes out.
The collection was edited by publisher and writer Farhana Sheikh and came about from ‘Project X’, an online writing project introduced by Sheikh through the website, the Asian Writer. She encouraged participating writers to write morning pages (which had transformed Sheikh’s own ability to sit down and write) as a gift to them.
The project’s aim was to see what would happen when writers are pushed outside of their comfort zones. The primary aim was to tackle subjects that hadn’t been written about; this itself is evident in how unique and diverse the stories are both subject-wise and structurally.
It truly is a different book which aims to flesh out various parts of the South Asian experience. I would recommend
it to those who want to read creative work about Asians by Asians from a different angle.
Picture: Several authors read from their work at the launch at The Bush Theatre Library, west London.
‘Beyond The Border: New writing by British Asian Women’ (November 2014), £9.99 Dahlia Publishing, more info/buy click here