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The Afghan Women's Writing Project

Dawn, Masha Hamilton, and Joyce Hinnefeld

One of the many highlights of BookExpo America was the opportunity to meet and chat with so many amazing people – bloggers, authors, publicists, random strangers on the subway … (no, I’m kidding about that last one. Mostly).

I visited with several authors at the Unbridled Books booth; and was finally able to meet and chat face-to-face with Caitlin, whom you may know as @csummie on twitter.

One of the authors I spoke with was Masha Hamilton; I loved her most recent novel, 31 Hours, and am getting ready to dive into her backlist, which includes The Camel Bookmobile, Staircase of a Thousand Steps, and The Distance Between Us.

Masha told me more about her work with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, which she founded in June 2009.  The AWWP is a non-profit group which mentors Afghan women in writing their short stories, poetry, and personal essays.  These women’s voices are published in the AWWP online magazine in a blog-like format which invites commentary from readers.   As an intro banner on the site explains:

Please take the time to leave a comment for the writers.  They work in such isolation and in such difficult conditions that any feedback or commentary helps them know they are being heard and is greatly appreciated.

These stories are brave, daring, courageous … none of these synonyms seems enough … valiant, bold, spirited …  Many of these women are writing in secrecy, shielded only by the promise of anonymity.

I’m going to highlight a few here, and encourage you to visit the site, read the full pieces, and leave a comment.  Peruse the site, find an essay that speaks to you, and let the writer know she has your attention.  It can make a world of difference to a woman struggling to be heard.  This is a great opportunity for any of you who are participating in the Women Unbound reading challenge, too!

14 comments to The Afghan Women’s Writing Project

  • Tea

    I have her last two books on my shelf. I definitely want to read Masha Hamilton’s new book, 31 Hours. Didn’t know about that one. What is it about? Do tell.

  • I would love to dive into her backlog as well. I know once upon time we wanted to do a group read with one of her books. She does such great stuff that it really is inspiring. Not to mention I think she tells a great story.

  • Wow — definitely a program to support. I was there when the photo was taken, but I somehow missed the whole Afghan project discussion. THanks for bringing it to my attention. I must read Masha’s backlist.

  • What a wonderful project to give these Afghan women a voice. I enjoyed 31 Hours and look forward to reading other works by Hamilton. Thanks so much for introducing me to this project.

  • bermudaonion

    I’d heard of the Afghan’s Woman’s project but never looked into it. What a great project! I will be checking it out.

  • Sounds like a great project…I’m sure writing for these women can be very cathartic like it is for veterans. I’ll have to pop over to the blog site and check these essays out.

  • I am going to have to check this out and try to leave a comment. It sounds like what these women are doing is very important, and they need to be heard. Thanks for sharing this with us, Dawn!

  • I’m still trying to pitch 31 Hours to my book club. I’m not giving up! And what a project. I’m going to check this out.

  • Beth Hoffman

    This is the first I’ve heard of the project, and I’ll definitely check it out!

    Thanks for this, Dawn!

  • Kathleen

    Thank you so much for highlighting this on your blog and including the links. I will definitely check it out.

  • Dawn, THANK YOU so much for posting about the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Comments you and your readers leave on the site means a lot to the women writers, who often have to go to enormous lengths to send us their essays and poems. Much gratitude! Masha

  • I had never heard of this project, but I want to thank you for pointing it out. It sounds very interesting.

  • What an awesome project! I am in awe of people who can put something like this together. Off to visit…

  • [...] she made direct eye contact, told me about the novel, and mentioned that Benaron works with the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (which I wrote about here).  And … it was highlighted at the book group panel on Wednesday afternoon (which I did [...]

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