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Nation, War and Exile as Portrayed in Afghan Diasporic Fiction: The Case of Muhammad Asef Soltanzadeh

Nation, War and Exile as Portrayed in Afghan Diasporic Fiction: The Case of Muhammad Asef Soltanzadeh

A lecture by Dr. Mir Hekmatullah Sadat, part of the Afghanistan in Ink Conference

This paper presents thematic content analysis of the reflection and/or critique of societal realities and human conditions in Afghanistan and the Afghan Diaspora by applying Paolo Freire’s problem-posing technique. The primary sources used for the study are three Dari-language collections of short stories, Dar Goriz Gom Mishawim (In flight we disappear), Nowroz Faqat Dar Kabul Ba Safa Ast (New Year’s is only Genuine in Kabul), and Inak Danmark (This is Denmark), by Muhammad Asef Soltanzadeh who is an Afghan expatriate and fiction writer living in Denmark. This paper explicates a general survey of the thematic content of his work as imaged by this diasporic writer -- the images of war-time era in Afghanistan, the conflict between the government and guerillas, the brutality of war and genocide, religious extremism and discrimination, and the immense poverty as well as other byproducts of war are presented through the themes of trust and betrayal, alienation, mental and physical health, rape and physical abuse, illiteracy and ignorance, death and tragedy, and complete breakdown of civil society. In addressing the societal realities of life in the Afghan Diaspora, Soltanzadeh draws upon his own life’s and others’ experience in Iran and Europe. When describing refugee life in Iran, the following themes are interlaced in his stories: depression, homesickness, encounters with systematic and institutional racism, psychological distress, and desperation. When dealing with life as an immigrant in Europe, Soltanzadeh explores themes of cultural preservation and acculturation, globalization, changing gender roles, the absence of communities, and the loss of tradition. The study relies heavily on authoritative sources which will also include Soltanzadeh.

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