Today, in celebration of my country’s independence, I want to talk about the writers who hail from Pakistan and primarily write in the English language. Since most are adult fiction than YA, I also hope to contribute to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. From being shortlisted for Man Booker Prize to Orange Prize for Fiction, these are the people and their novels which make me proud. Some I’ve read and some I plan to.
Of trends and lesser-knowns.
At the stroke of midnight on August 14th, 1947, Islamic Republic of Pakistan was born. It’s been 67 years of independence which makes Pakistan a relatively new country. I’ve read and heard countless stories of how it all started, the struggle which seemed endless, and finally, the sweet, sweet taste of freedom.
Bapsi Sidhwa is perhaps one of the most renowned authors of Pakistan. I first read her novel, An American Brat, in high school. She’s mostly recognized for Ice-Candy Man, a novel about the partition of the Indian Subcontinent which was later adapted into a movie titled, Earth 1947.
Mohammed Hanif made headlines when he wrote a A Case of Exploding Mangoes in 2008, a dark satire based on a 1988 plane crash which killed Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia. I read it during my college years and found it to be a thoroughly engaging read. His second novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, is a story of a Christian nurse working in a government-owned hospital in Karachi.
Kamila Shamsie has written five novels. I was blown away by her writing in Burnt Shadows, a story that spans generations beginning from Nagasaki in 1945 to Afghanistan after 9/11. Some of the novels she wrote are Kartography, Broken Verses, and the most recent, A God in Every Stone.
Recognized for his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid is a widely recognized author. The Reluctant Fundamentalist follows the life of Changez after the 9/11 attacks. His two other novels are Moth Smoke and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. Moreover, Discontent and its Civilizations is a collection of essays releasing next year.
A British Pakistani, Nadeem Aslam wrote two novels before he rose to fame in 2008 when The Wasted Vigil was published. Set in Afghanistan, The Wasted Vigil is a brutal story following three main characters. His other works include Season of the Rainbirds, Maps for Lost Lovers, and The Blind Man’s Garden.
Musharraf Ali Farooqi is a Pakistani Canadian author of The Story of a Widow and more recently, Between Clay and Dust which is a story about a famous wrestler past his prime and a well-known courtesan. He is also a translator and an illustrator for children’s books.
Daniyal Mueenuddin, an Asian American, is known for writing short stories. His book, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, a collection of short stories that link together, is about a large Pakistani landowning family.
Despite being born and bred mainly in the US, Nafisa Haji is a Pakistani author. She has written two novels; The Writing on my Forehead and The Sweetness of Tears. She is a well-received author of stories dealing with tragedy, turmoil, and emotion.
Based in London, Moni Mohsin debut novel, The End of Innocence, was about a dangerous love after which she immersed herself in writing satirical series titled The Diary of a Social Butterfly.
Sorayya Khan, daughter of a Pakistani father and a Dutch mother, moved to Pakistan as a child and is known for her Noor and Five Queen’s Road which is a historical novel set in old Lahore. She is currently working on her next novel.