Book Review: Unfettered Wings by Sana Munir

Book Name: Unfettered Wings

Author: Sana Munir

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4.2/5

Book Blurb: From the barren dust bowl of Nushki, a small town in Balochistan, to the posh white marble bungalows and magnificent mansions of Lahore, this book captures vignettes of the lives of Pakistani women who brave battles, big or small, every day. These women compare with their Indian counterparts as much as they contrast. Whether it is little Farida, through whose innocent eyes we see the drawing of political borders and the destruction of many families or Meera, whose attempt at reaching out across these very borders is met with ridicule by her own countrymen, Summi, who shares the painful burden of her husband’s past, or the wanton Maria for whom love and relationships matter naught these are real-life characters grappling with issues that are as timeless as they are contemporary.
Unfettered Wings is about strength and fortitude, of relationships in ordinary settings that unfold into extraordinary situations.

Review: Sana Munir’s Unfettered Wings is about women who although living ordinary lives have not lost their zeal and humour in spite of difficult situations they find themselves in. The stories are far too ordinary and perhaps its best since they become highly relatable and ordinary tales are the most powerful ones.

Sana has selected a principal protagonist in each of her stories around which the narrative is built wonderfully well. She writes well with a keen eye for observation weaving in sarcasm and wit to lighten the mood. Much of the stuff between these pages is serious and deals with class and patriarchy in conservative household setups. The sad part is that the perpetrators are perhaps the men these women trusted or were well known around the household- what do you do when the protector becomes the hunter?

Its been a long time since I have come across such a powerful short story collection. It reminded me of the tales I had read few years back from another Pakistani author: Daniyal Mueenuddin’s “In Other Rooms Other Worlds.”

While each story is unique and makes this book worth a read, Reema’s story was the most powerful for me.

“That day Billu raped her. It was after a long time that she fully realized what had happened during a game of blind man’s buff, up in the attic.” 

However, each of the women depicted comes out as strong in spite of what she was made to go through reaffirming faith in human will that tends to triumph all in the end.

Sana’s narrative is passive and no over the top which perhaps pays homage to the women in these stories since women folk in the subcontinent are generally perceived as meek but these are powerful tales, depicting ordinary battles and ordinary heroes in everyday life.

“She had said it decades later, when she should have said it earlier and probably made another girl safe from Billu.”

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