Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Recommended Reading: Forsaken by Lana Šlezić

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House of Anansi Press, 2007

In March 2004, award-winning Canadian photographer Lana Šlezić went to Afghanistan with, in her own words, "preconceived notions and a knapsack full of naivety." She believed the ousting of the Taliban in 2001 meant that girls were back at school, women had discarded the burka, and the environment was less oppressive for women. What Slezic discovered about the truth prompted her to lengthen a six week assignment into a two-year stay.

During that time, Šlezić travelled quietly and unobtrusively through many regions of Afghanistan, talking to women and girls who were willing to tell her their stories. The Afghan women were warm, generous, and eager to share their time with her. Yet, without exception, everywhere Slezic went she encountered issues of domestic violence, forced marriage, seclusion, illiteracy, and a lack of freedom on the most basic of levels.

Today, every Western organization with an interest in Afghan women -- from NGOs to the US and Canadian governments -- is developing aid plans. What we tend to forget, Slezic shows us, is that the people most knowledgeable about the issue are the Afghan women themselves. With its searing stories and heart stopping, full-colour images, Forsaken allows some of these women to speak directly to us, and in the process attempts to redress the imbalance in the conversation.

Please visit Women for Afghan Women and Breaking Bread for Women, two Canadian volunteer organizations.

Lana Šlezić was born to Croatian parents in Toronto. She studied photojournalism and interned at the Magnum Photo Agency in New York, then worked on contract for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star before going freelance. Her clients include the New York Times, Paris Match, National Geographic, The Sunday Times magazine and a host of others. Forsaken is her first book of photography. It is being published in seven countries, including the Netherlands (Mets&Schilt), the Czech Republic (Kant), the UK (Dewi Lewis), Italy (Contrasto), France (Actes Sud), Spain (Blume), and Germany (Edition Braus). It will be published by Powerhouse in the US.

From the catalogue. Visit the House of Anansi website to read more about Forsaken.