When Stories Bear Witness

Feb 8 2012 @ 10:21am

by Maisie Allison

Spurred on by the example of Hiroshima author John Hersey, Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie wishes more American writers would grapple with the ugly realities of war and empire: 

Your soldiers will come to our lands, but your novelists won’t. The unmanned drone hovering over Pakistan, controlled by someone in Langley, is an apt metaphor for America’s imaginative engagement with my nation. … Where is the American writer who looks on his or her country with two eyes, one shaped by the experience of living here, the other filled with the sad knowledge of what this country looks like when it’s not at home. Where is the American writer who can tell you about the places your nation invades or manipulates, brings you into those stories and lets you draw breath with its characters?