Tag Archives: Fatima Bhutto

Five Books By Pakistani Writers That Deserve To Be Celebrated More Often

It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine, for instance, the history of literary fiction in English coming out of India and its neighbouring countries without paying close attention to Pakistan. From Mohammed Hanif to Moni Mohsin, Fatima Bhutto to Ali Sethi, Nadeem Aslam to Mohsin Hamid, the list of writers based in Pakistan, or of Pakistani origin, is diverse and distinguished. But these five that follow deserve a special mention, simply because their understated charm and power to delight are not celebrated often enough — or as much as they should be.

The Crow Eaters, Bapsi Sidhwa

One of the funniest novels by a Pakistani writer, The Crow Eaters was Sidhwa’s first published book. Set in the early years of the 20th century, it tells the story of Freddy Junglewalla, who moves his family — his pregnant wife, baby daughter and irritable mother-in-law — from their ancestral home, somewhere in the hinterland of Pakistan, to the glittering cosmopolis of Lahore.

In the city, he embarks on a successful venture, but as Freddy’s fortunes grow, so does his bickering with his mother-in-law, the domineering Jerbanoo. Written in faux-elegant British English, every sentence of this large-hearted novel is laced with wit. An endearing portrait of the Parsees in Pakistan, this is a gripping read from the beginning till the end.

The Wandering Falcon, Jamil Ahmad

A quiet but haunting debut, this collection of stories by a Pakistani civil servant who spent several years in Baluchistan was much acclaimed for its delicate realism. The characters — poor peasants, tribal lords — are drawn vividly from life and are usually the stuff of news reports coming out this region. Ahmad brought these figures to life with poetic brushstrokes and in his unfailingly controlled prose.

Written over a period of time, the stories were retrieved from his drawer and published in this volume when Ahmad was in his 70s. The collection was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize, one of Asia’s most prestigious literary awards, in 2011. Read more

Fatima Bhutto nominated for fiction prize

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. Read more

It’s my right to criticise Pakistan because I love it: Fatima Bhutto

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. Read more

Review: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

In this book, possibly because it is literary fiction and her debut in the genre too, Fatima Bhutto chooses to leave a great deal unsaid and sometimes flits over the surface of things, so that many motives seem difficult to understand and many characters not fleshed out enough: Anjana Basu in The Outlook

shadow-of-the-crescent-moon-penguinFatima Bhutto’s debut novel is set in the scarred outer regions of Pakistan, one of those territories that the state looks down on and rules with ‘ox-blood heeled’ violence. Mir Ali is located in North Waziristan and should rightfully have been a place out of a dream with clear blue skies, mountain peaks and rushing streams where the children go to fish with their families in summer. Instead, it is a place where young men and, sometimes, older ones disappear with no explanations given, where families pack their bags and prepare to vanish once their sons are gone. However, Fatima Bhutto chooses to introduce the troubled one-horse town not through straight description, but through three hours in the life of three brothers: Aman Erum, recently returned from studies in the US, Sikandar the doctor, and Hayat. The day happens to be Id and because Mir Ali is the place that it is, there are snipers on the rooftops looking down on the town as the bazaars slowly open.

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Fatima Bhutto on her first novel and rumours of Bollywood debut

Novelist talks about ‘strong’ Pakistani women who inspired her and on rumours of Bollywood calling: Gulf News

PB081118“Writing is always a long journey, no matter the genre. And since fiction was new territory for me, naturally the process was different,” says Fatima Bhutto, who has made her debut as a novelist with “The Shadow of the Crescent Moon”, after having been a nonfiction writer.

Published by Penguin, the novel is set in Mir Ali, a small town in the troubled tribal region of Waziristan, close to the Afghan border. The author wanted the town, the epicentre of the story, to be a combination and reflection of a lot of real locations in Pakistan and “The Shadow of the Crescent Moon” draws stories and experiences from real life.

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Unforgettable characters dot Fatima Bhutto’s debut 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. Read more

Fatima Bhutto: The Daughter Who Said No

fatima_bhuttoFatima Bhutto refuses to participate in the perpetuating of dynasty. Writing fiction, she tells Shougat Dasgupta, is her politics, her way to tell the truth: Tehelka

Fatima Bhutto is done talking about politics. Done being asked to explain. Always to explain. She’s seated at this table, in a cramped room in Penguin India’s office, copies of her just published first novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, in a teetering pile in front of her, to talk about books and writing and will not be deflected. “Everybody wants to know the same two things about Pakistan,” she says, trying and failing not to roll her eyes, “they want to know it every week and they want to know it in 600 words and they don’t listen. I feel like a broken record.” Or, she adds, switching to a soupy, yoga teacher voice, “They say, ‘Oh, let’s just focus on the positive.’ Politics is so difficult, I don’t want to listen anymore.” With fiction, though, “when you tell people a story, their attention span, their imagination, expands. It allows you to say more”.

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Singapore Writers Festival 2013 launched

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.  Read more

18 on 18

fatima_bhutto18 authors on being 18: The Outlook

Outlook magazine asked 18 top authors to write about being 18, a curious phase in life. ‘Their thoughts are here—from Ruskin Bond, 79, in Mussoorie who does not have a cellphone or an e-mail address, who speed-posted his handwritten notes and it reached us the day he said it would, to Fatima Bhutto, 31, who promptly replied to the mail reque­sting her to write in half an hour when she was travelling in Johannesburg and sent an enchanting little piece about growing up in Damascus, to Pico Iyer who quickly sent in his piece as he said he was going to be cut off from the world soon.’

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Gao Xingjian, Jung Chang, Mohsin Hamid, Nadeem Aslam confirmed for Singapore Writers Festival 2013

Mohsin hamidLiterary heavyweights such as Chinese Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian and top contemporary novelists such as Mohsin Hamid and Nadeem Aslam (Pakistan/UK) have been confirmed as authors participating in this year’s Singapore Writers Festival.

The organizers have unveiled the full list of authors and speakers for this year’s festival.

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