A Promised Land

In the wake of the Partition, a new country is born. As millions of refugees pour into Pakistan, swept up in a welter of chaos and deprivation, Sajidah and her father find their way to the Walton refugee camp, uncertain of their future in what is to become their new home.Sajidah longs to be reunited with her beloved Salahuddin, but her journey out of the camp takes an altogether unforeseen route. Drawn into the lives of another family-refugees like herself-she is wary of its men, particularly Nazim, the eldest son whose gaze lingers over her. But it is the women of the household whose lives and choices will transform her the most: the passionately beseeching Saleema, her domineering mother Khala Bi, the kind but forlorn Amma Bi, and the feisty young housemaid Taji.With subtlety and insight, Khadija Mastur conjures a dynamic portrait of spirited women whose lives are wrought by tragedy and trial even as they cling defiantly to the promise of a better future.
Views: 675

Sita Under the Crescent Moon

In present-day Pakistan, in the far corners of Lyari in Karachi, or Hingol in Balochistan, or Thatta in Sindh, tightly knit groups of women keep alive the folklore, songs and legends of Sati—their name for Sita in the Ramayana. The way they sustain the attendant rituals and practices in a nation state with a fixed idea of what constitutes citizenship and who gets to be a primary citizen is at the heart of this book. In Sita under the Crescent Moon, author Annie Ali Khan travels with women devotees—those without resources, subject to intense violence—who, through the bravest and simplest act, that of a pilgrimage, retrace what they remember of the goddess. Who are these pilgrims? How did this relationship with Sati start, and why is she so significant? How do their oral mytho-histories compare to colonial narratives or mainstream definitions of Sati? Even while retelling the stories of these pilgrims,...
Views: 421

Avoiding Armageddon

India and Pakistan will be among the most important countries in the twenty-first century. In Avoiding Armageddon, Bruce Riedel clearly explains the challenge and the importance of successfully managing America's affairs with these two emerging powers and their toxic relationship.Born from the British Raj, the two nations share a common heritage, but they are different in many important ways. India is already the world's largest democracy and will soon become the planet's most populous nation. Pakistan, soon to be the fifth most populous country, has a troubled history of military coups, dictators, and harboring terrorists such as Osama bin Laden.The longtime rivals are nuclear powers, with tested weapons. They have fought four wars with each other and have gone to the brink of war several times. Meanwhile, U.S. presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have been increasingly involved in the region's affairs. In the past two decades alone, the White House has...
Views: 290

A Woman Like Her

The murder of a Pakistani social media star exposes a culture divided between accelerating modernity and imposed traditional values—and the tragedy of those caught in the middle. In 2016, Pakistan's first social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered in a suspected honor killing. Her death quickly became a media sensation. It was both devastatingly routine and breathtakingly brutal, and in a new media landscape, it couldn't be ignored. Qandeel had courted attention and outrage with a talent for self-promotion that earned her comparisons to Kim Kardashian—and made her the constant victim of harassment and death threats. Social media and reality television exist uneasily alongside honor killings and forced marriages in a rapidly, if unevenly, modernizing Pakistan, and Qandeel Baloch's story became emblematic of the cultural divide. In this deftly reported and artfully told account, Sanam Maher reconstructs the story of Qandeel's...
Views: 147

Red Birds

A powerful novel about war, family and love, from the bestselling, prize-winning author dubbed 'Pakistan's brightest voice' (Guardian)An American pilot crash lands in the desert and takes refuge in the very camp he was supposed to bomb. Hallucinating palm trees and worrying about dehydrating to death isn't what Major Ellie expected from this mission. Still, it's an improvement on the constant squabbles with his wife back home.In the camp, teenager Momo's money-making schemes are failing. His brother left for his first day at work and never returned, his parents are at each other's throats, his dog is having a very bad day, and an aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind. Written with his trademark wit, keen eye for absurdity and telling important truths about the world today, Red Birds reveals master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
Views: 68

A Case of Exploding Mangoes

There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. This is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of:1.Mechanical failure2.Human error3.The CIA's impatience4.A blind woman's curse5.Generals not happy with their pension plans6.The mango seasonOr could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri?Teasing, provocative, and very, very funny, Mohammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream.
Views: 65

Duty Free

Jane Austen's Emma, transported to the outrageous social melee of 21st-century Lahore.Our plucky heroine's cousin, Jonkers, has been dumped by his low-class, slutty secretary, and our heroine has been charged with finding him a suitable wife -- a rich, fair, beautiful, old-family type. Quickly. But, between you, me and the four walls, who wants to marry poor, plain, hapless Jonkers?As our heroine social-climbs her way through weddings-sheddings, GTs (get togethers, of course) and ladies' lunches trying to find a suitable girl from the right bagground, she discovers to her dismay that her cousin has his own ideas about his perfect mate. And secretly, she may even agree.Full of wit and wickedness and as clever as its heroine is clueless, Duty Free is a delightful romp through Pakistani high society -- though, even as it makes you cry with laughter, it makes you wince at the gulf between our heroine's glitteringly shallow life and the country that is...
Views: 62

The Diary of a Social Butterfly

Pakistan may be making headlines—but Butterfly is set to conquer the world.'Everyone knows me. All of Lahore, all of Karachi, all of Isloo—oho, baba, Islamabad—half of Dubai, half of London and all of Khan Market and all the nice, nice bearers in Imperial Hotel also...No ball, no party, no dinner, no coffee morning, no funeral, no GT —Get-Together, baba—is complete without me.'Meet Butterfly, Pakistan's most lovable, silly, socialite. An avid partygoer, inspired misspeller, and unwittingly acute observer of Pakistani high society, Butterfly is a woman like no other. In her world, SMS becomes S & M and people eat 'three tiara cakes' while shunning 'do number ka maal'. 'What cheeks!' as she would say. As her country faces tribulations – from 9/11 to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto—Butterfly glides through her world, unfazed, untouched, and stopped short only by the chip in her manicure...
Views: 35

The Women's Courtyard

Aliya lives a life confined to the inner courtyard of her home with her older sister and irritable mother, while the men of the family throw themselves into the political movements of the day. She is tormented by the petty squabbles of the household and dreams of educating herself and venturing into the wider world. But Aliya must endure many trials before she achieves her goals, though at what personal cost?Set in the 1940s, with Partition looming on the horizon, The Women's Courtyard cleverly brings into focus the claustrophobic lives of women whose entire existence was circumscribed by the four walls of their homes, and for whom the outside world remained an inaccessible dream. Daisy Rockwell's elegant and nuanced translation captures the poignance and power of Khadija Mastur's inimitable voice.
Views: 27