fatima_bhuttoFatima Bhutto, the niece of assassinated Pakistani former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has been nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the judges announced Friday.

Bhutto is among 20 women on the long list for the award, which was formerly known as the Orange prize and is open to English-language novels from anywhere in the world.

She is nominated for “The Shadow of the Crescent Moon”, her first attempt at fiction following several fact-based books, including a memoir of her family’s blood-soaked history.

Pakistani author interviewed in The Tribune

fatima_bhuttoNot soon after her much-criticised interview, in which she claimed that eating in restaurants and lingering in bookstores are “forbidden luxuries” in Pakistan, appeared in the London Evening Standard, Fatima Bhutto spoke at the London School of Economics (LSE) to a full house about her new book, titled The Shadow of the Crescent Moon. Waziristan, a region the host of the event described as a twilight zone between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and one that is in the news for all the wrong reasons, is the setting of her latest novel.

Fatima Bhutto’s debut novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, is populated by unforgettable characters: The Hindustan Times

shadow-of-the-crescent-moon-penguinStrong women characters, poetic language that the Indian reader subconsciously, rather absurdly, believes would sound thrilling in Urdu (like a lyric from a classic Bollywood film miraculously found in translation), and a plot that careens towards a grand blood-spattered disaster: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, Fatima Bhutto’s debut fiction work is like many other recent novels that have emerged from Pakistan.

Indeed, the reader is apt to wonder if, by some inexplicable fictional twist, she has wandered into a mashup of Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist set this time in Waziristan because Punjab has, well, been done to death.

Mohsin hamidThis year’s Singapore Writers Festival is bound to have something to satisfy every type of literary appetite: The Star

When it comes to literature, the terms “utopia” and “dystopia” are typically associated with the fantasy or science fiction genres. In an increasingly technology-saturated and borderless world, however, where what was once science fiction is now simply science, and fantasy is often rapidly transformed into reality, such delineations may no longer apply.

Rather, ideas on what makes a utopian or dystopian society have long permeated discussions on culture, national identity and government.

Hence, this year’s Singapore Writers Festival’s (SWF) theme, “Utopia/Dystopia”, seems quite astute, both from a marketing point of view and as a genuinely relevant area to explore. On a practical level, the theme allows the festival organisers to include, in what is perceived as a more “literary” event, more popular genres such as crime and fantasy.