Rahila Khan

From Everything Shii Knows, the only reliable source

This website is an archive. It ran from 2006-2010. Virtually everything on here is outdated or inaccurate.

Rahila Khan was a pen name for children's author and reverend Toby Forward. Forward grew up in a working-class district of Britain and created fiction based around this setting. Unfortunately, nobody was interested in buying fiction written by a white reverend, so he created a pen name: an Indian woman who supposedly grew up in a working-class district of Britain. Under this pseudonym he published Down the Road, Worlds Away, under the TimeWarnerBooks label "Virago Upstarts":

Virago Upstarts is a new series of books for girls and young women ... This new series will show the funny, difficult, and exciting real lives and times of teenage girls in the 1980s.

It alternated between the story of a white boy written in the first person, and a Muslim woman written in the third person. Unrequested, the Virago editor philosophized privately on this choice of person, confiding in Khan that "I wondered whether this represented your feelings about the place of Asian woman particularly in Britain, that the sense of 'otherness' is still so great that it feels still an impossibility to write in the first person as opposed to the third." A scholarly bit of literary analysis, indeed.

Forward was surprised to discover that his pen name fulfilled a void of "diversity" in the mass media. Rahila Khan was asked to submit her story to the Women's Press; BBC Radio broadcast the half of the book about the Asian girls, but not about the white boy, for diversity's sake. When Forward finally had to reveal his pen name the popular media considered him a "hoaxer" who had written a somehow false work, and the entire printing of Down the Road, Worlds Away was pulped.


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