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Narrative spaces

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Maryam Maruf | 17:56 UK time, Friday, 17 September 2010

If you have noticed our common story begins in the apartment of our main character, then it develops at the seashore and continues at the salty lake. You might have wondered, why at the lake, but there's a deliberate choice in that unusual space or location.

Two months ago we launched series of programmes on The Strand called 'Read my country'
and I have spoken there about the spaces which are preferred by Uzbek writers. Many Uzbek stories indeed happen in the bazaars, now increasingly in the mosques, and I find it quite telling.

Let's take the case of this country, England. Compare for instance Thackeray's Vanity Fair with The Forsythe Saga by Galsworthy. If the majority of scenes in the first one happen in parlours of drawing rooms and lounges, I still remember the scents of the June garden, where bees were buzzing between the blossoming flowers when one of the elderly Soames died in his armchair.

Those favourite narrative spaces or locations tend to change over certain period of time. When I say narrative I don't confine it just to the literature. Take for example popular TV soap-operas - apart from other traditional spaces (a pub for the Eastenders) one can easily see that hospitals have become one of the main scenes (Holby City, Casualty and even some sitcoms). Is it to do with what some political parties describe as a 'sick' or 'broken society'? I don't know, but the fact that the hospitals play a much more prominent role in the collective psyche, and therefore narration, is quite obvious.

Journalism is also not free from certain locations. In the past few days I have looked at several days news bulletins and the majority of the stories have been reported from governmental buildings, rarer from the war theatres, even rarer from the scientific laboratories and so on.

The best journalism tries to break those conventional confined spaces and explore human conditions in different areas. My colleague Rustam Qobil has produced this great piece of journalism about the Dancing Boys of Afghanistan
and the freshness of the narrative is due not only to the story itself, but also to the new locations where we have been taken: the Afghan 'Bazm' or a festivity, barley field, streets and bazaars of Northern Afghan cities.

We are still writing our common story and I hope you'll pay good attention to that small but very important part of our narration - the spaces or locations.

Another suggestion is just to write up one scene, which you feel is closest to you, or where you feel at home or in your own natural space.

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