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Sana Mohsin.jpeg

Sana is a writer and researcher based in Lahore who recently completed her studies in Canada. Her writing has appeared in Canadian literary journals Acta Victoriana, Hart House Review, The Decameron Writing Series, and more. Her debut poetry collection, Grief Grows Elsewhere, was published in 2022.

WINNER

RABBITS
by
Sana Mohsin

A surreal narrative using a compelling central image to explore power dynamics within a household. Rabbits multiply as a family falls apart.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • This is an affecting story with a powerful central image that builds with an incredible sense of momentum to an absolutely haunting finale. It's fascinating how the cuteness and the harmlessness of the rabbits which start to multiply in the story bring about a reversal in power in the household and a change of status - AA

  • On a subject that will be familiar and real to many, the writer's unconventional conclusion is disturbing, bizarre, yet oddly satisfying in its triumph - SYA

  • Having established a convincing, bone-level sense of unease from the very start, RABBITS builds and builds until, almost without the reader noticing, the dominant note becomes a wild, near-deranged sort of glee. Surreal and sharp, with a pleasing hint of the eldritch, this is a poised piece of writing - SV

Maria Khan.jpg

Maria is a Master's student in English and American Studies at a joint program in Bamberg and New York. Her research and writings span the topics of diaspora experience, mother-daughter relationships and Sufi heritage. She has previously dabbled in screenwriting for Teeli, DAWN's web channel, and her poetry is published in the Arzu Anthology

HIGHLYCOMMENDED

A POT OF DAAL
by
Maria Khan

In an attempt to recreate her late mother's recipe for daal, one woman explores their vexed relationship.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • ​A very subtle story, intuitively structured around emotional truth - SM

  • By the time I finished this I had remembered every meal I had messed up. Reminded me of the old Punjabi saying: Daal Jeri Nibhay Naal (Daal will always be with you). And this stays. - MH

Amna Chaudhry.JPG

Amna Chaudhry is a writer and activist. Her non-fiction work  has been published in Guernica, Caravan, Himal Southasian and Dawn. Her newsletter,  Modsquad, is a monthly publication critiquing constructions of 'ideal' womanhood produced by the media, fashion and beauty industries in Pakistan. She is writing her first novel.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

KHAZINA
by
Amna Chaudhry
 

A husband’s second marriage creates heartbreak but also new opportunities for an abandoned wife.

 

 

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • A daring little gem. Can we find happiness in our gham hour? You will if you read this story - MH

  • Pleasingly taut writing. She does a lot with a little, managing to be evocative without ever being florid.  - SV

SaherHasnain_Profile.jpg

Saher is a researcher with the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute where she works on the future of global food systems.  She enjoys speculative fiction and won the Salam Award in 2022 for her story Children Always Come Home. Her fiction has also been published in Himal  Southasian

HIGHLY COMMENDED

MALIK AND KHADIJA WAIT
by
Saher Hasnain

A taxi driver deliberately delays his passenger's ride to the airport. But what is the bond that links these two strangers?

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • This is an often humorous but poignant story of grief and loss and getting on with the everyday business of survival. It's a story that takes in critical themes like gender and class but explores them in a deeply human way.  - AA

  • Superbly crafted, quietly hilarious, tremendously readable - SYA

Samia Altaf_edited.jpg

Samia is a public health physician from Lahore. She is the author of So Much Aid So Little Development: Stories from Pakistan published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2011. She has been shortlisted and longlisted for the ZHR Prize on three previous occasions. Her work explores the subtle ways women internalize and express gender bias.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

MOTHER IN THE JAMUN TREE
by
Samia Altaf
 

How to escape from the existential miseries of life in Pakistan? One woman finds a novel solution

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • Delightful Lahori take on Italo Calvino's classic. I didn't want this story to end. I hope there'll be more. - MH

  • High absurdity rules the day in this energetic tale of unlikely escape. The author paints a brilliantly sharp, hyper-real picture of the everyday injustices (minor and not so minor) and unseen labours which in the singular might be dismissable as 'petty' but which have the cumulative effect of death by a thousand cuts. This author has a real flair for comic writing and unlikely juxtapositions. She's caught a wonderful balance between the very mundane and the wildly ridiculous. - SV

Ayesha Malik.JPG

Ayesha is an international lawyer whose non-fiction writing has appeared in Dawn, The Nation and Pak Politico. This is her first fiction piece. Her second fiction piece, Softly Unalone, was selected as a finalist for the Salam Award 2023.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

THE LONG WAY ROUND
by
Ayesha Malik
 

Can anguish manifest itself as alarmingly real? One woman confronts her demons while dealing with an affair of the heart.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

Neuroses take a semi-physical form, haunting the protagonist with the familiarity of needy, unwanted pets -- a new slant on material well-worn. With some truly original expression, the writer has us rooting for her central character (who amongst us hasn't wished they could clout their inconveniently-timed trauma on the nose?) whilst managing to steer clear of any romanticising of The Void. Stark and well-told. - SV

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