23 Pakistani Books Which Received International Acclaim

By Ali Gul | 25 Feb, 2017

Of late, Pakistani writers have been getting a lot of attention in international literary circles. And keep in mind that this isn’t because of the West’s interest in hearing stories about a country fighting against the “war on terror” but to the fact that Pakistan is a treasure trove of stories that are far more interesting and inspiring than just terrorism.

Here are 23 books that have received universal acclaim and it’s time you read them too:

1. Moth Smoke By Mohsin Hamid

In his debut, Hamid tells the story of a banker in Lahore, who loses his job, falls in love with his best friend’s wife, and gets stuck into a life of drugs and crime.

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2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

The movie does not do justice to the intriguing story in this book. It is the tale of Changez who tells an American stranger about his love affair with an American woman, and the reason he left America to come back to Pakistan.

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3. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif

Mohammed Hanif’s highly acclaimed first novel discusses life in the military and speculates on the circumstances surrounding General Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crash.

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4. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammad Hanif

This is another masterpiece by Hanif which tells the story about the everyday life of a Christian nurse who works in a government hospital in Karachi. The ending, in particular, is the work of pure literary magic.

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5. The Ice-Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa

This novel which is also called Cracking India was the first one written by Bapsi Sidhwa. The story takes place in Lahore and deals with the bloody partition of India through the eyes of a young Parsi girl. It was also made into a movie, 1947: Earth, starring Aamir Khan and Nandita Das.

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6. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

A collection of short stories about love, deception, wealth and the goings on in a feudal household in Pakistan. It has won The Story Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

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7. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Pakistan is divided on Malala. While some people adore her courage, there are some who consider her a yahoodi sazish A.K.A agent of the western “liberal” forces. What no one can deny is the determination and courage this brave young girl has shown in the face of death and this book tells her story.

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8. Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam

This book sheds light on the working-class Pakistani immigrant communities that are based in the north of England over the last 40 years. The writer took 11 long years writing this book.

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9. Kartography by Kamila Shamsie

Kartography is a Pakistani love story. Set around the time period of the war of 1971, this book not only deals with emotions that are universal, it makes you fall in love with a Karachi we all long to experience.

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10. My Feudal Lord by Tehmina Durrani

Tehmina Durrani’s controversial book provided the world great insights into the vulnerable position of women stuck in the complex web of Pakistani society. It is as riveting as it is scandalous.

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11. Agency Rules by Khalid Muhammad

This story is about a young man named Kamal who goes on a mission to fight for Pakistan’s survival. This book tells the tale of the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the return of the mujahideen.

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12. The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto made her fiction-writing debut through this book which revolves around the lives of five young people who are pushed to make terrible choices. Set near the border with Afghanistan, this book is a great read, if any of Bhutto’s previous works are indicators to go by.

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13. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie, arguably one of the biggest novelists in Pakistan, pens an enthralling tale of two families who get stuck together in some of the most devastating conflicts of modern history.

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14. American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar

This book looks at the interplay of religion and modern life by showing the reader how it is for Muslims to grow up in America. Ayad is not only a Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist, he also features on our list of Pakistanis who made it big in Hollywood.

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15. The Writing On My Forehead by Nafisa Haji

This emotional novel is about female bonds in a family and the relationships between a mother and her daughters and among sisters. It explores family, tradition and what binds them together.

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16. The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria

The Upstairs Wife is an intimate exploration of Pakistan and a memoir of Karachi through the eyes of its women. It is written by Zakaria who is an attorney, a political philosopher and has written for many prestigious publications like Al Jazeera and Dawn.

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17. The Spinner’s Tale by Omar Shahid Hamid

After the bestselling book The Prison, Omar takes his readers on another crazy journey from the streets of Karachi to Kashmir and Afghanistan. The Spinner’s Tale is a book about two friends and how their life drastically changes when one of them becomes a jihadi militant.

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18. The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam

This novel is set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11. The story describes a timeless world where you can’t distinguish between the enemy or the ally. Quite relevant to a Pakistan of today, as well.

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19. Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State by Maleeha Lodhi

Maleeha Lodhi brings together experts to explore the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of Pakistan. This book helps in having a deeper understanding of our country’s dynamics.

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20. How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid

This is the third, and latest, a novel written by Mohsin Hamid. It’s a story about a poor boy and his quest for wealth and love as he moves to the city.

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21. The Duel by Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali examines Pakistan-United States relations and things such as US aid to Pakistan, and the negative approach of American politicians to our country. He also sheds light on political corruption and terrorism in Pakistan.

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22. Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie created yet another literary masterpiece with this book wherein she details the life and loves of a Pakistani girl living in the U.S.

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23. The Bride by Bapsi Sidhwa

This was Bapsi Sidhwa’s first novel which shows the world of a spirited Pakistani orphan girl for who decides to run away from home to avoid an arranged marriage. This is a novel about women, tribal culture and contemporary politics in 1997.

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Image Sources: NPR, Fabingo


This article is sponsored by FabingoFabingo is Pakistan’s largest online bookstore. They offer a vast variety of genuine books, with great discounts and a quick delivery system. You can get your desired book delivered to your doorstep for free.


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