Contextual Resources: Pakistan
Nonfiction for Adults
- Future of Pakistan by Stephen Philip Cohen
- Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
Inskeep discusses his work and research in Karachi here.
- Pakistan: A Hard country by Anatol Lieven
Lieven discusses his work on Pakistan here.
- Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State, Edited by Maheela Lodhi
Hear a full presentation by Lodhi, Pakistan’s former U.S. and U.K. ambassador, here.
- Back to Pakistan: A 50 year journey by Leslie Mass
Listen to more about Mass’s story here.
- Sacred Spaces: A Journey with the Sufis of the Indus by Samina Quraeshi
- Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building by Laura A. Ring
Modern Fiction for Adults
- Moth Smoke by Moshin Hamid
With an innovative structure that takes on multiple points of view, political and social issues, and the daunting details of everyday life, Hamid tells the story of a banker-turned-underworld denizen in Lahore with the pace of a thriller but serious literary thoughtfulness.
Moshin Hamid talks about his life as an American and a Pakistani.
- The Young Wife and Other Stories by Zaib-un-Nissa Hamidullah
A collection of stories from one of Pakistan’s most prominent women writers, who was also a pioneer of feminism and women’s rights, this volume features tales of rural life and the urban Karachi working class, with a special emphasis on the role and lives of women. Along with her literary contributions, Hamidullah launched the first woman-oriented publication in Pakistan, which featured fiery, outspoken editorials on politics as well as softer fare.
- Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif
Written by a Pakistani journalist, with a feisty Karachi Christian nurse and healer as its heroine, this satirical novel spins a tale of mix up and mishaps, while contemplating the complexities of women’s roles and religious difference in Pakistan.
Hanif discusses the diversity of Pakistan and his writing.
- In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
Watch Mueenuddin read and discuss his work.
- Nawabdin Electrician by Daniyal Mueenuddin (published in The New Yorker)
- A Dragonfly in the Sun: An Anthology of Pakistani Writing in English by Muneesa Shamsie, ed.
- P is for Pakistan by Shazia Razzak
- Pakistani Folk Tales: Toontoony Pie and Other Stories by Ashraf Sidiqi and Marilyn Leach
Trucks in Pakistan are meant to be seen and heard. Moving works of art, trucks are painted in vivid hues, with intricate designs, and stunning traditional and contemporary motifs.
- A vivid overview of the practice.
- Fox News piece that tells the story of their vibrant looks (and sounds)
- On Wings of Diesel by Jamal Elias, explores the cultural meaning of these trucks, how artists create them, and what they say about identity in Pakistan. With, of course, lots of great pictures of colorful trucks.
- For a good introduction to Pakistan’s diverse contemporary visual artists, see the recent Asia Society exhibit Hanging Fire.
- Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia by Iftikhar Dadi
- For a glimpse of some of what’s happening right now on the Pakistani art scene, see the Pakistan Art Review
- Thanks to stunning performers like the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, some of Pakistan's Sufi musical traditions have found a global audience. They are part of a set of practices and beliefs that span the Muslim world. (See, for example, the documentary Sufi Soul to hear the many sounds of Sufism).
- Sufi music and performance practices have also had a major impact on popular culture in Pakistan through films and recordings. (See, for example, this scene from the 1972 Urdu film Ilzaam.)
- Though it's tempting to link artists like Azhar to these traditions, they are very specific and rooted in particular religious and musical practices. For detailed scholarly documentation and analysis, try Regula Qureshi's Sufi Music of India and Pakistan.