Granta is delighted to announce the next instalment in its New Voices series, which showcases short fiction from emerging writers exclusively on the website. The first New Voice of 2011 is Bilal Tanweer, with ‘After That, We Are Ignorant’. We chose the story for its captivating atmosphere and highly convincing voice, both of which are sustained with a rare confidence.
After That, We Are Ignorant
So guess what that guy said when the Comrade said, ‘I am Comrade Sukhansaz?’ He was some smartass – he returned a dumb expression, and asked: ‘Sukhansaz, that’s the word for poet … But what’s your name? And what’s Comrade … Is that a Muslim name?’
Hahaha! Whatshisname, Comrade, he turned red, even though technically that wasn’t possible because he was so dark, but oh, you should have seen his face – imagine a dry, savage brown flashing with colour! At first Comrade Sukhansaz didn’t reply, just turned his face and stared at the back of the seat. After a few moments, he began bumbling in a low voice. ‘In this country, everything is either Muslim or non-Muslim, everything, everything. Is your shoe Muslim? This cap, does it go to the mosque with you? Does your spoon and knife say their prayers on time? Everything, bloody everything is Muslim or non-Muslim! Is this colour a Muslim colour? And then no one can talk about religion … Names, now names are Muslims and non-Muslims!’