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Author Information: Talat Abbasi

 
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Talat Abbasi comes from Karachi, was educated in Karachi, Lahore and the London School of Economices. Since 1978 she has lived in New York, where she works in an international organization and has specialized in gender and population. Literature was always her first love, and philosophy a second, but neither were considered 'useful' subjects so she studied economics. In spite of her lack of interest in the subject, being at the London School of Economics was fascinating enough that she enjoyed herself regardless, and 'grew up in a way that I wouldn't have had I not left for foreign shores'. She started writing seriously when she moved to the US in 1978. She has two children and a fulltime career (unconnected with her writing), and wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. She says: I have always been interested in writing and perhaps I am impelled to write because I can't paint, draw, sing, dance, embroider! And yet, after one has lived each day fully what remains but to paint, draw, sing, dance, or write about it! The trans-cultural appeal of Abbasi's stories is attested to by their publication in numerous magazines, mostly in the United States but also in France and India and in college text-books in the U.S. Her stories have been broadcast on the BBC World Service Short Story Programme, including a prize-winning story in their 2000 competition. Bitter Gourd is a collection of seventeen stories which explore the worlds of Pakistanis in Karachi and its environs and of Pakistani immigrants in New York, covering each strata of society: privileged upper classes, poor relations, servants and also children of all classes who have internalized the values and anxieties of the adult world. The stories speak of the entrapment of gendered roles, of class and culture as a force determining relations between masters and servants, husbands and wives and of the struggle for freedom from this entrapment, sometimes successful.

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