Stories Wrapped in Stories

“That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.”
― Tim O'Brien

You have just been asked to start thinking about why freedom of expression is so important.  It is considered a fundamental human right.  So, why is that?

Think about a time that you were in trouble as a child and how important it was to you to tell your side of the story.  We all know how important it is that we are listened to.

As a society, as a culture, we share a lot of stories. Collectively, we know how important it is that our stories are told and passed on. Our stories are a big part of what makes us human. 

In this unit we will look at how stories are so important, so powerful, that there are people who want to control which stories are told and which never see the light of day.  We will also meet some writers who have had to go into exile or hiding for the stories that they have told. 

Along the way, you will hear some stories that sound familiar along with others that sound like variations on others you have heard before. 

But first, we are going to hear the story of a storyteller who can never go home due to the threat that she poses to the government of her homeland. 

Stories Wrapped in Stories - Intro

“That's what fiction is for. It's for getting at the truth when the truth isn't sufficient for the truth.”
? Tim O'Brien

You have just been asked to start thinking about why freedom of expression is so important.  It is considered a fundamental human right.  So, why is that?

Think about a time that you were in trouble as a child and how important it was to you to tell your side of the story.  We all know how important it is that we are listened to.

As a society, as a culture, we share a lot of stories. Collectively, we know how important it is that our stories are told and passed on. Our stories are a big part of what makes us human. 

In this unit we will look at how stories are so important, so powerful, that there are people who want to control which stories are told and which never see the light of day.  We will meet author Salman Rushdie, who told a story that upset many people.  For many years he lived in hiding to avoid being killed by the people he offended.  While in exile, he wrote the novel Haroun and Sea of Stories, which is all about the forces of evil that attempt to silence the storytellers. Thankfully, Salman Rushdie's real-life story has a happy ending, just like that of his likeable character Haroun Khalifa.

Before you get to read about Haroun, you will read a few other stories that informed Salman Rushdie's storytelling.  Most of these, such as The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Arabian Nights, will be familiar.

But first, we are going to hear the story of artist and storyteller Shirin Neshat. Like Rushdie, she has upset some people and as a result can never go home.