Bangladeshi writer, women’s rights activist and physician Taslima Nasrin first made her name as a poet in the 1980s before achieving international attenion with debut novel Lajja. The novel’s critical take on Islam as well its feminist stance were partly to blame for her exile in 1994, first to France and later the United States. You can catch her at ILB twice, first on September 9 (7pm) in a section titled “Rebellious Women” and then again on September 11 (6pm) talking about the Manifesto of 12, a manifest against political Islam she signed with the likes of Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and, appearing with Nasrin at ILB, Chahla Chafiq and Mehdi Mozaffari.
Who should stay away from your latest book and why?
No one should stay away from any of my books. I want everyone to read them, especially my enemies. My writing is a stand against misogynists, fanatics and fascists – I hope they read my books and change.
Favourite criticism about your work?
“She writes pornography.”
Describe the genesis of your books. How do you get started?
The first sentence.
Why do you write?
I write because I can’t not write.
Where do you write?
When do you write?
A recurring literary nightmare?
The Shining by Stephen King.
Describe your first memory of writing…
I was 13. Wrote a poem titled “the bird”. I was not allowed to go out of the house. I used to see the sky through my window. Wrote my poem: “I want to fly all over the sky.”
If you weren’t a writer you’d be…
I actually am a physician already.
Your favourite and least favourite word?
Favourite word: “Freedom”. Least favourite word: “Compromise”.
Your favourite literary character?
Nora in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
Which book do you wish you had written?
The Second Sex.
Choose an epitaph
The universe was her country, the world was her village.