Dubai-based Kashmiri author Sana Altaf has been nominated for AutHer Awards for her debut book, Forgotten Tales: Stories from the Kashmir Valley. Set in the Kashmir of the conflict-riven 1990s, the book is a collection of short stories. The anthology was released in 2022 and was widely acclaimed.
A journalist by profession, Sana moved from Kashmir to Dubai in 2014 when the book was a work in progress. Her book is a work of fiction based on the traumas and experiences of the author, as she puts it, while growing up through the tumultuous 1990s in Kashmir.
“My book is about struggle, pain and injustice. And I won’t say that it exists only in Kashmir. It’s the truth in many cities, towns and countries in the world,” Sana told Kashmir Newsline.
She believes that it’s important for people to tell their stories.
“It’s important to tell such stories so people pause and think for a moment, so that our future generations know the past in a factual way. Telling stories is the only way to preserve the present and it’s the present that creates history one day,” she said.
Reacting to the nomination, Sana said, “It means that the stories of people are being read and recognized. It’s not an award nomination for me but for those who stood strong through many years of a raging conflict in Kashmir that hasn’t doused yet.”
The nomination has come as a surprise to the author because of the book having been set in the violent 90s of Kashmir. “To be honest, I’m surprised because when it comes to Kashmir, there are multiple screenings that our work has to go through in India. But I’d be lying if I said I’m not happy about it,” she said. The author believes that women must come forward and tell their stories. “Do not aim for awards or citations, but to document the reality which may often be harsh.”
The AutHer Awards – a joint venture by JK Paper and Times of India – celebrates women authors who have contributed in various fields of writing.
The AutHer jury considered books by women published in India between December 2021 and November 2022 in fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature in the nomination list announced on Sunday. There are awards for debut books as well across genres.