A Refusal to be Deformed

An excerpt from an interview with Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto. She was asked what comes to mind when she hears the word “violence” and how this understanding shapes her writing style.

Violence is more than just a word or even an attack. Violence is atmospheric. Like the weather, it’s a condition that covers over every choice, every human process, and is integral to how we gauge and navigate daily life. To have some consideration toward violence requires that we account for these climates of action and emotion, and I suspect that’s always been the case.

Even when I was very young, before I had so many personal encounters with violence, it still was atmospheric. It was always spoken about. It never left, even if there were sunnier or darker days, you always felt its pressure. Violence for me has always been there, on the minds of everyone in my family. I would even go so far as to say it was the biggest consideration to life. How to live in an environment where violence is ever present and has shaped who I have become.

I have of course always tried to keep a distance, and that’s part of the coping strategy. We try not to let violence in. But sometimes that’s not possible. It can seek you out like a slowly building storm.

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