An Unromanticized Afghanistan in Saira Shah’s The Storyteller’s Daughter

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Abstract In this paper I examine Saira Shah’s representation of Afghanistan and her conflicted position as a viewer and narrator whose “way of seeing” the East and West sometimes fluctuates between an Orientalist and a nationalist perspective. I argue though that her affiliation to the West and Orientalist views seem to dominate her perception of Afghani culture and its people far more than she had expected. Despite her attempts to renegotiate her hyphenated identity, as an Afghani- British, she finds herself unable to embrace the new torn- up Afghanistan that replaces the romanticized image she had of it in the past. In The Storyteller’s Daughter, Shah tries to bring Afghanistan and its culture to light, but indirectly contributes to its invisibility and misrepresentation by the colonial discourse. She shares with her readers her experiences with the Taliban and the women she met in Afghanistan which she thought of as a mysterious land until she was disillusioned with its horrific state of war and political turmoil.

Key words
: Identity, Saira Shah, Afghanistan, Orientalism, Third World


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