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“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Controversy’s favourite child – Taslima Nasrin, the writer and woman believes thoroughly in Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s words and more than anything else, her life has been about fighting for freedom of speech. Her memoir, Exile is nothing but an account of her struggles while in India. Her journey in India has been replete with constant resistance since our society at large isn’t too comfortable with a woman voicing her opinions, owning her body or speaking against religion and patriarchy.

Whether one considers Taslima Nasrin a literary icon or not, one cannot deny that her life has been nothing short of phenomenal. She never shied away from speaking her mind or expressing her opinions on religion or society. She hasn’t visited her country for the last 22 years now and has been leading a nomadic existence with the label of anti Islamic. ‘Exile’ is the moving and shocking account of all that happened during her stay in India – Kolkata, Hyderabad. It is filled with nostalgia and remains of her childhood while contrasting with the gory details of her encounters with death (mob attacks, verbal attacks, bans). It’s a story of fear and courage, of determination and failure, of tears and heartbreak, of home and belonging…

The book chronicles her journey in India – a country she holds dear and feels at home; Kolkata, the city that makes her nostalgic, the people who make and mar her. One thing that this woman holds the promise of is honesty and blatant truth. And her words live up to that legacy.

Read it to get some insight into the life of a woman who did not bow down to the whims of patriarchy or religion or politics, and stood her ground for what she believed in. It’s reflective and evocative, and to say the least – leaves us disillusioned with our world that is incapable of being a safe haven for its artists.

– Yashnashree

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