Never had a woman so much influence on readers’ hearts and minds like the Jane Austen .

Women writers were of this view at a panel discussion on the book ‘Austenistan’, which is an anthology of seven short stories. It was launched at the British Council in Lahore in connection with bicentenary celebrations of Jane Austen .

The book has been written by seven Pakistani writers who joined hands to reproduce the themes of Jane Austen in contemporary era.

Moni Mohsin, a Pakistani writer based in London, moderated the panel discussion.

Jane Austen is famous for her novel Pride and Prejudice. People across the globe and in Pakistan love her writings.

On the occasion a reading session was also held.  The reading from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was done under the banner of Olomopolo Media featuring Samiya Mumtaz, Zara Peerzada and British theatre and film actor Adrian Lukis. Adrian is a British actor who played Mr. Wickham in the 1995 BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He had especially come to Lahore for book launch.

Zara Peerzada was wearing 18th century white dress. She received huge applause from the audience.

Laaleen Sukhera said Jane Austen is so much relevant in today’s era because Regency England’s society is like the society of Pakistan these days.

“The themes, characters and plots are still relevant today. All the stories are set up in Pakistan in today’s era,” she explained.

Sania said she liked the approach of Austen especially the way she built up the characters that is when even the characters mortified but they perused their distinct.  “Austen is a timeless writer; specially her characters,” she said.

The panellists stressed that women today faced the same old issues like the women of Austen’s age. They had limited options to marry a man of their own choice. The women of that era also faced inherited money and property issues. Austen has playfulness in her stories. 

Samiya said there is exploration of human psychology in Jane Austen’s novels and keen observation of society which lacks in today’s fiction writers. “Austen characters’ give love a chance, not cynically but just to give a chance,” she said.

Other than romance at the heart of the book there is a family, Moni Mohsin said. The heroines of Austen never married losers, she said.

Laaleen Sukhera told The Nation that Jane Austen Society in Pakistan will publish this book in others languages also including French.