Many people consider a dog a best friend as its love for the master is incessant and likes to stay in an individual’s company. However, many of you will disagree who are eager to have friends around them who can teach them a lesson or two that can bring about a change in their perspectives and practical life ahead. Although, you can be an extrovert to be in a company of multiple friends in a day. Yet, books are considered as an individual’s best friend as they are willing to talk to you as much as you like at your own time of comfort. In order to begin the new journey, these 10 amazing books of Pakistani writers can never be overlooked as this collection would provide you a novel outlook regarding the cultural contexts and issues prevalent in Pakistan.
10 Books by Pakistani Writers That You Must Read
Every book by Pakistani writers has something new and interesting to share with you provided you are willing to take and accept the perspectives shared in them. In addition, books encompass a comprehensive experience of an author’s life. Therefore, you need not to have multiple lives to experience the world from different lenses. Rather, you have to be a reader and you will have a life with an experience of multiple lives and experiences.
If you like history and love to read about the events that led to the establishment of Pakistan particularly the Partition Movement of 1947, then Bapsi Sidhwa, the Pakistani American writer, has written a masterpiece for you titled as Cracking India. The novel was originally titled The Ice Candy Man. However, it was changed to align with the theme of partition as portrayed in her writing. The narrative revolves around the life of Lenny, a 4 year old girl living with her 18 year old Ayah, a hindu from Amritsar, known for her voluptuous nature and resultantly has several admirers in Lahore.
Sexual awakening stands as one of the major themes of the novel as Lenny is shown to recall her childhood memories and the time she has spent with Ayah. The novel generally encompasses the discussion between these two major characters which teaches young Lenny regarding relationships that develop among adults. In addition to sexual awakening, the novel portrays the impact of partition that led to several riots taking place among angry Hindu and Muslim mobs.
One such mob got hold of the Ayah as Lenny being unaware revealed her presence. Lenny’s family intervened to extricate Ayah from an Urdu poet earlier introduced as the Ice Candy Man so that she may reunite with her family. Furthermore, the novel consists of several narrations including Rana’s story where he narrowly escaped from getting murdered under the hands of these angry mobs while his family were unable to save themselves. The book and similar ones by Pakistani writers vividly portray the picture of the region immediately after the announcement of Partition.
If you want to comprehend and explore how the perceptions of the West have gradually changed towards Muslim countries, then Mohsin Hamid, one of the renowned British Pakistani writers, has written a great metafiction for the readership, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Published in 2007, the author used the technique of frame story where one narrative paves the way for another story within the work itself. This style was adopted by Mohsin Hamid so that the protagonist, a Pakistani named Changez, can narrate the events to an American sitting along with him at a café in Lahore.
Although the conversation between these two characters begins from some remarks regarding the history and culture of Lahore, it moves towards Changez sharing his life experience joining Underwood Samson as an analyst. Then, moving further ahead and meeting an aspiring writer Erica whom he loved a lot. But their relationship did not last for long as Erica kept missing her childhood lover, Chris who died of lung cancer. He started to excel in his career and was sent by his officer, Jim to Chile that was an awakening trip for Changez.
He became aware of the American perception regarding Muslims and forced him to return back without completing his job. The September 11 incident was another eye-opener for him as Muslims were considered responsible and held accountable for the whole plot. Changez grew a beard to show his support for his Muslim community against the western oppressions and returned back Lahore after his visa got expired as he was left with no job in America.
He started teaching finance at Lahore and started to gain prominence making the young learners of finance regarding the unfair economic policies of the West oppressing Muslim countries for gaining prosperity. As he was narrating the story to the American, he could observe the restlessness being portrayed from the non-verbal cues of the American. The metafiction concludes with an indication that the American took out something from his pocket towards Changez. However, the readers are kept in a state to ponder whether it was a badge of investigation or a weapon to assassinate Changez.
Kamila Shamsie, one of the renowned British Pakistani writers, who got fame with multiple of her masterpieces, wrote a fiction, Burnt Shadows, that revolves around the history of two families whose life events have been narrated in four phases happening in different countries. The prologue reflects the bewildered state of a prisoner in Guantanamo followed by the love affair of a teacher named Hiroko Tanaka with a German named Konrad Weiss. The happy beginning turned into a tragedy after Nagasaki was detonated with an atomic bomb leading to several casualties including Konrad turned into a burning shadow.
Despite her troublesome situation and state of grief, Hiroko tries to move on in life and settles in Delhi to live with the family of Konrad’s half-sister. Her name is IIse in the book and she lives with her husband, whose name is James Burton. This phase brings together Hiroko with another character, named Sajjad Ashraf, who is a clerk. With him, Hiroko tends to start life afresh and gives birth to his son, Raza. The narrative portrays these events happening in Karachi where Hiroko, due to certain reasons, loses Sajjad.
Eventually, Hiroko migrates to New York getting close with IIse who separated from James and started living as an independent woman. In the meanwhile, her son Harry Burton prevent Hiroko’s son Raza from getting affiliated with the Jihadist movement by offering him an opportunity in the intelligence sector.
Another renowned work by Pakistani writers that has gained widespread attention of readership being related with the real-life incident causing the death of the former president of Pakistan, General Zia ul Haq is A Case of Exploding Mangoes written by the British Pakistani writer, Muhammad Hanif. The book is based on the narrations of the protagonist, Ali Shigri who is suspicious regarding the suicide of his father Col. Shigri. According to Ali, his father has been murdered by Major Kiyani under the orders of General Zia. As a result, he is seeking an opportunity to avenge the murder of his father by injecting snake venom into General Zia’s arm whenever he can get the right chance.
In addition, his vengeance plan includes stabbing General Zia’s eye with his underarm sword. The book consists of Ali’s narrations regarding US Ambassador to Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, Pakistan Intelligence Chief General Akhtar Abdur Rehman and President Zia ul Haq. The president has been portrayed as a person becoming more and more suspicious regarding his inner circle of trustworthy officers. He continues investigating the ones around him suspecting that some of his junior officers are making a plot to assassinate him.
If you seek an all-in-one package offering you a collection of multiple stories, then Daniyal Mueenuddin, one of the renowned Pakistani writers has prepared your favorite collection of short narratives that are mind-blowing. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a masterpiece that has won Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and The Story Prize for Daniyal. It provides a catalog of brief stories where the fate of characters, as portrayed, is determined on the basis of their socio-economic status.
The short stories of Saleema trying to live a better life, Nawabdin Electrician’s honesty, About a Burning Girl highlighting the immoral judicial system, Provide that encompasses the difficulties faced by Zainab. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders revolving around the declining status of K.k. Harouni, Our Lady of Paris indicating the acculturation of Harouni’s next generation in America, Lily showing the lifestyle of children born in an affluent family, and A Spoiled Man revealing the influence of a young woman in poor working man’s life represent the underlying themes of social status, class distinction, and poverty and how these social conditions have devastated the lives of the protagonists of these short stories.
If you prefer an autobiographical writing style, then My Feudal Lord requires no detailed introduction. The book has been written by Tehmina Durrani, the social activist of women and children rights. The book created a wave of critique as soon as the book got published and was considered as a bold step taken by Tehmina Durrani to raise her voice against the atrocities of men against women and children.
The book basically revolves around her own life and the difficulties she has witnessed and suffered while living with her then-husband, the renowned politician, Ghulam Mustafa Khar.
Mohsin Hamid is one of the Pakistani writers known for another of his masterpieces, Moth Smoke. Published in 2000, the book narrates the story of Darashikoh Shezad known in the book as Daru, who is a banker in Lahore and loses a job due to his aggressive temperament. Despite being an idealist, he falls in love with his friend’s wife named Mumtaz who continues the extramarital affair with Daru. Nevertheless, the events of the narrative tend to worsen as he starts selling drugs and making his life more miserable with the passage of time.
Bapsi Sidhwa has portrayed the lifestyle of a Parsee community in a magnificent way in her work titled The Crow Eaters which revolves around humor and courage as the profound themes reflected within the book. The narrative covers the endeavor of the protagonist, Freddy Junglewalla who is presented as migrating from the ancestral home in India to their new habitat in Lahore. Despite the disturbing relation between Freddy and his mother-in-law, the shop that he opened in Lahore to establish his business started to flourish exponentially leading to good fortune for the whole family.
If you possess a taste of reading historical fiction, then The Blind Man’s Garden has been written just for you by one of the British Pakistani Writers, Nadeem Aslam. The award-winning book presents the desire of individuals living between Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan to return safely back to their homes without becoming a victim of the Afghan war. The narrative begins by presenting the journey of Rohan towards Peshawar to help the people who have arrived from Afghanistan to protect their loved ones from the Post September 11 Afghan war between the Americans and the Taliban.
Rohan’s son, Joe along with his adopted brother has other plans of going to Afghanistan for safeguarding the people getting affected by the war. They were shown being forced to join the Taliban.
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Musharraf Ali Farooqi, one of the renowned Pakistani writers has used his pen to create a masterpiece titled Between Clay and Dust that depicts the condition of the inhabitants of the sub-continent after the advent of the partition movement. Two major protagonists presented within the narrative are Ustad Ramzi who was known as the most powerful and invincible wrestler of his time.
On the other side, Gohar Jan is known as the conspicuous courtesan who was acclaimed for her irreplaceable beauty and melodious voice. Both characters are portrayed remembering the old days of their prime and admirers present in their surroundings as they compare it with their declining strength and beauty.