With Broken voices Valerie connects Two worlds

06Mar08

She has penned down a story of a young black girl of Nigerian descent in her first novel- Borrowed Body, which makes you reminisce of the movie Color Purple. Valerie Mason-John is a playwright, author and performance poet. This former journalist wrote extensively about Australian aboriginal land rites and articles for various publications. She was in the city to launch her latest book Broken Voices: Ex ‘Untouchable’ Women Speak Out, which is based on the stories of Dalit women from all over India. “I came to India 25 years ago, as a journalist. I was reporting the cases of bonded labour in Delhi and Mumbai then. I also covered an anti slavery rally. Three years ago I visited again to convert to Buddhism and went on a Buddhist pilgrimage. It is very important to note the fact that Buddhism is devoid of caste system. My book includes the stories of educated women, uneducated women, beggars and trafficked women. It is their account of sufferings they have gone through,” she explicated.

She is also the former actor with Talawa Theatre Company in UK. “When I visited India, I learnt about the Dalits here and found their struggle very similar to the struggle of blacks. I was shocked when I read of Dalit accounts here and Dr Ambedkar’s struggle and was surprised of the fact that I had never read anything about him till that time,” she added. Valerie wrote and produced her first play, Sin Dykes in 1998. Since then her theatre writing credits include Brown Girl in the Ring, The Adventure of Snow Black and Rose Red and more recently You get me.

Her first novel is the voice of Pauline, the aforementioned Nigerian girl, growing up in white foster homes and orphanages, then reclaimed by her mother. It won the 2006 MIND book of the year award. Her latest book Detox your Heart written in 2006, deals with anger, hatred and fear. “If India is going to be one of the major economies and so many people benefiting out of this economy boom, I want to know what the government is doing for the Dalit population,” questioned Valerie. She was also named as Britain’s Black Gay Icon and has won an award for her contribution to the Black British community.

“Right now the book is in English, but I want it to be translated in Marathi and Hindi, so more people would be able to read it,” she concluded.



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