In this powerful debut, Samira Shackle explores the city of her mother‘s birth in the company of a handful of Karachiites, whose life stories reflect different sides of the shadow city. Zille is a crime reporter who juggles contacts to cops and mobsters alike for his journalistic fame. Parveen is a schoolteacher, who sees her friends and family succumb to an influential ganglord and watches her neighborhood being consume by violence. A Pashtun ambulance driver is driven by his wish to improve his own life and to do something meaningful. A mohajir (a Muslim immigrant from India), works stoically for an NGO which aims to give the poor access to water and electricity. Finally, we meet Jannat, whose ancestral village falls prey to land-grabbing by a murky private property development near Karachi. As their individual experiences unfold, so Shackle tells the problems of South Asian megacities: access to water, to electricity, to education, and to juridical support, politically motivated crime and the grotesque economic inequalities that govern everyday life in Karachi and elsewhere.
Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay from the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at Göttingen University is hosting.