Steamy lesbian pulp fiction series, Challawa, once a household name in Pakistan, is to be published in English.
Bano’s sexploits, as related in the Challawa series of journals, were bestsellers in 1970s Pakistan, and were seen as mainstream literature.
The heroine of the series, Sabiho Bano, is a wealthy 35 year old Pakistani socialite who has a voracious appetite for young, lower class girls in particular.
In one story, Bano climbs on board a crowded bus, on the hunt for pretty girls, and finds one with a complexion resembling “a white flower smudged with saffron.” Bano coaxes the girl back to her mansion, where they drink brandy and have sex.
The lusty character was so popular and so public that the publishing house received thousands of adoring letters from 16-year-old girls “who had that yearning,” and from wealthy male banking executives. Many people were convinced that Bano was real, and some demanded to meet her.
The stories attracted readers from all social classes, until they were banned under Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s.
The stories were originally written in Urdu, and so never reached Western audiences. However, this may change, because London-born, Faiza S. Khan, tracked down the author Mr Humayun Iqbal, and asked permission for a translated exerpt to appear in “The Life’s Too Short Literary Review”.
Mohammed Hanif, the author of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” translated the story, and the British Council helped finance the publication
The next step for Khan is to translate the entirety of “Challawa”, and to publish an abridged English-language version.
Sounds intriguing. Let’s hope that we do eventually get to see more of this fascinating series!