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Sultana's Dream

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  888 ratings  ·  136 reviews
The female narrator of Sultana’s Dream wanders into a dream city that shuns war and violence. In this utopian world, women rule and men are content with their places in the kitchen. The queen of this kingdom explains how women won and kept their peace against men and their war-like ways.

This edition of a feminist utopian classic is a conversation across time; Durga
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Tara Books (first published 1905)
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How come this is not as famous as it should be? A 1905 science fiction short story written by a Bangladeshi Muslim feminist at the time when most women had no access to education! And it was written in English not the writer's mother tongue!

Despite being an extremely short story, it still succeeds in making a strong point. Injustice is terrible and religion, in this case Islam, is no excuse! Women have the right to walk the streets with no fears. They have the right for the best educ
Interesting, in that the author was writing about women's rights at a time when women were still not seen as people legally in many societies. I guess her purpose in describing men in purdah in Ladyland was to highlight how ridiculous it is to control, contain and diminish half the population.
I did find the energy generation methods of Ladyland a little amusing.
The author doesn't take a nuanced view on power, instead stating that containing and controlling the men of Ladyland results in w
Really bold subject considering when and where it was written. The blurb says pretty much all, so I won’t get into details; it’s a 10 minutes reading anyway.

I’ll just say that it’s pretty amazing what this woman did achieve in a conservative society like that one. And nowadays, most of us, having all the freedom we need, do nothing but complain of everything…
Sidharth Vardhan
An early feminist work from Asian sub-continent.
I've read this amazing book a few years ago and could hardly believe that a woman from 1905's Bangladesh, when women were rarely given education, wrote something in English and a really good piece too! But that is the specialty of Begum Rokeya, who was a very gifted personality on her own right... Who flourished with the support of a generous, open-minded family behind her. She was a feminist writer (both fiction and non-fiction), critic and renowned social worker, whose bibliography isn't very ...more
Jerry Jose
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sultana's Dream was originally published in The Indian Ladies' Magazine, Madras, 1905, in English. here is a link for drm free read.

Considering the time and place it was written, this short is a badass satire on traditional stereotypes and status quo of woman in Colonial India. In Begum's vision of a feminist utopia - Ladyland, roles are gender reversed, where females lead the future with technology while men are secluded away.

The premise and metaphors are rather impressive, for example the name Sultana by meaning
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, feminist, sci-fi
An all-too-brief little story, but packs a punch. Muslim feminist utopian science fiction, you say? That predicts solar power, you say?? Written in 1905, you say???
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nicole by: Jean Menzies
It was really interesting reading this short feminist utopia from 1905 India. The story is understandably very simple as it is only a few pages long, but lays out various aspects of this role-reversed female-led society. Ladyland's resemblances to Herland were many (peace and no crime, vegetarianism/veganism, efficiency, freedom, highly prizing education, etc), though I'm not sure how much that is to do with the shared idea of what a specifically feminist utopia might look like verses common ideas of u ...more
Utsav Bansal
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short, whimsical, sci-fi
A feminist piece re-imagining the world as a matriarchal utopia, it is difficult to believe it was written in 1905 by an Indian author!
Short and packs a punch.

Written by a Bengali Muslim woman, this satirical short story imagines a world where women are allowed to live to their fullest intellectual and economic potential. A sultan's wife travels to LadyLand, where the women run the world, for lack of a better term.

It was written in 1905.

This story was written, it was published, but more astonishingly, it survived. Science fiction is a testament not only to who we are, but who we can be. It allows us to shed our su
I just came across this very short book while reading an article on the Taj Mahal. I was interested enough in a story taking about men in the purdah and women running the State to check it out. What is impressive about this book is that it was written by a Muslim feminist woman in 1905. The author herself has done a lot of social work by spreading awareness on women's education and has fought for the right of women to choose a career of her choice. Note, not just the right to work, but the right ...more
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: feminists, Muslims, religious scholars, speculative fiction fans
Shelves: scifi, gender
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very brief story based in great part upon the question that i suspect most women either hear or posit at some point in their lives: What would the world be like if it was ruled by women?
Sultana's Dream attempts to answer that question in a very fantastic idealistic way. Of course, she makes it seem as if the world would be a lovely place to be. In a place where men are locked away and women are left to rule the world, there would be no war, no crime, sincere devotion to God, and
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist, favourites

In 1905, Begum Rokeya managed to figure out why women don't have equal rights and the brilliant role-reversal is honestly such a marvelous thing to read about. This is an iconic piece of feminist literature and I'm honestly so surprised people are sleeping on it.

This was extremely enlightening. I liked the analysis of the story and the background information provided on conditions in the Middle East and India, specifically Bangladesh and West Bengal, during the time period. Seeing the British reaction to the circumstances put things into perspective as well. I used to share that ignorant misinformed Western outlook when it came to how women were treated in South Asia. It was foolish of me to make conclusions without first considering how South Asian wom ...more
Kawtar Morchid
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a sweet discovery ! I am really impressed that this precious story was written in 1905 !!! I need to read more works by Rokeya. It is a must in fact. The story is about a world where gender roles are inversed : women rule while men stay at home. A very poignant story that shows the irony of women's situation in general and Indian muslim women in particular. lovely read.
This took me literally 5 minutes to read at the hairdresser this afternoon. And I'm so glad I picked it up. It's a feminist sci-fi short story written by a Bengali Muslim woman in 1905. Like...HOW CAN YOU PASS THAT UP?!

The gist of the story is that a Sultana (i.e. the wife of a Sultan) falls asleep one afternoon. When she does, she dreams that she's in a place called Ladyland (admittedly, that part could use some work) which is basically a utopia where women are scientists and economists and ma
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, e-book
'Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?'

'Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.'

'A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.'
Shahriar Kabir
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To whom it may concern I want to happily challenge: Show us doing!
First thing first, it is the belief to obtain that you can what will push you to do really.
To every girl, Sultana's Dream is a dream only which is dreamt or thought to be dreamt.
If none of you dream, then simply it's a dream, a waste dream by the writer.
But if they dream this dream then it will never stay dream rather a wonderful world of a racetrack.

Getting ahead is tough, needs a lot toil, but to lag behind it's enough
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is such a great forward thinking story. Honestly who knew there was a Bangladshi woman writing feminist short stories at the beginning of the 20th century. What a fabulous find.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully interesting utopian fiction. I'm astonished that it was written in 1905!
Anirudh Parthasarathy
Sultana’s Dream is a sci-fi pro feminism novella written during the early years of the previous century by the Bengali feminist writer Begum Rokheya. This review is solely based on the edition with illustrations from Durga Bai; and I don’t even know whether this edition is the full story or it has been abridged.

The story is straightforward, a woman by the name Sultana is led by another woman whom she presumes to be her friend Sara, takes her to a faraway land, which is far more advan
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I like this poetic line near the beginning of Sultana's Dream: “I saw the moonlit sky sparkling with thousands of diamond-like stars, very distinctly.”

I can hardly believe this book was written before L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables (1908)! I grew up reading Anne, but it's a very different look at women - as sweet, moral Victorian poetry lovers who make rhubarb pies in the kitchen.

Sultana's Dream might seem very quaint and cliched for audiences of today. But back in 1905
Bee Halton
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had chosen this book as the April read for my #supporttranslatedbooks group on Goodreads. Later I realised that this book was written in English for a women's magazine therefore not really translated but never mind :-).

It is a very short story but wonderfully written in a dream like style which fits the topic and title perfectly. I found it to be a story of harmony and hope. A revolution that happened without much violence and certainly gives something to think and dream :-) about.

The incredi
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Shelves: punk-solar

A jaw-dropingly awesome feminist science fiction utopia written by a woman in 1905 in response to the repressive patriarchy of India.

The main character visits a place called ’Lady Land,’ a utopia run on solar power, ruled by a benevolent queen, with no police because there is no crime, gardens fill every space, everyone gets around on cute little hover cars, robots do the farm work, the state religion is Everybody Love Everybody, women run all the businesses and hold all the power, and men are
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
A nice utopia. Not much plot, obviously, for it's just so short: just a story describing this society where women rule over men. While I am not sure it is the best idea - as a feminist, I believe in equality - It was interesting. I liked how men were not completely subjected to the kitchen beforehand:
FIRST STAGE men were soldiers, women were scientists
SECOND men in kitchen, women rule
It's good.
A wonderful little short story. The intriguing thing about it, is it was written by an Indian woman, in 1905, as a project to show her husband how her studies of English were coming. But even then, she was thinking of things like solar power and electricity to plough the fields. Freely available on the web, I would recommend it to anyone who has a spare fifteen minutes.
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A brief utopia of a world where women have taken control of society and by sheer brain-power have managed to harness the water and the sun, stop all wars and ensure prosperity, all the while the men are locked up, lest they ruin everything once more...
Ahmad Qassab Bashi
Oct 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Sultana was sitting in her chair then one lady will appear and will take her to a land where only women live, and men are not allowed to go outside. once all men are kept in the Zenzana or something all evil disappeared and the women lived so happy.
Shah Shajedur Rahman Shakil
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought it was a book on Feminism. It was, and the fiction part was bewildering.
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Begum Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, popularly known as Begum Rokeya, was born in 1880 in the village of Pairabondh, Mithapukur, Rangpur, in what was then the British Indian Empire and is now Bangladesh.

Begum Rokeya was an inspiring figure who contributed much to the struggle to liberate women from the bondage of social malaises. Her life can be seen in the context of other social reformers
“Why do you allow yourselves to be shut up?'

'Because it cannot be helped as they are stronger than women.'

'A lion is stronger than a man, but it does not enable him to dominate the human race. You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests.”
“Your kitchen is not inferior to a queen's boudoir!' I replied with a pleasant smile, 'but we must leave it now; for the gentlemen may be cursing me for keeping them away from their duties in the kitchen so long.' We both laughed heartily.” 4 likes
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