Pakistani Feminist's Memoir Dropped by Syracuse University Press

by Mandy Van Deven

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Last March, Fawzia Afzal-Khan’s memoir Lahore with Love: Growing up with Girlfriends Pakistani Style was released by Syracuse University Press (SUP). Although the book received numerous positive reviews and critical praise from scholars and lay readers alike, its publisher decided to drop it just months after its release over concerns about being sued for libel and defamation of character. (A well-known theater personality in Pakistan sent a letter to SUP threatening legal action over the contents of a chapter in the book.) . . .

Having received support from public intellectuals worldwide — from Nawal El Saadawi to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — Afzal-Khan decided to take on the legal risk herself and her now-self-published memoir is available this month. I spoke with Afzal-Khan about the controversy and the importance of protecting freedom of speech. . . .

How can readers support your efforts?

I think the best advice was given by University of North Texas professor Masood Ashraf Raja: Assign the book in classes on topics such as South Asia, literature, postcolonial studies, and the Islamic world. Purchase a copy of the self-published edition. And pass along the information about this debacle to your friends.”

Mandy Van Deven is the Deputy Director of RightRides, the Founding Editor of the Elevate Difference, and the co-author of the forthcoming Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets.

(Also reported by In the News, University of North Texas).