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Each week we spotlight three pieces of writing from our longlist. This year's non-fiction writing displays a diversity of subject matter and genres including memoir, travel-writing and polemic. Themes range from the personal to the public. Yet in all cases our writers succeed in conjuring places and scenarios with an assurance that is particularly evocative and resonant of Pakistani society and culture.



Embracing The Chaos

Rajaa Bokhari

"Karachi is testing the limits of my mental health. ... This city is loud - and, at the same time, incoherent. ...

My heart sinks. In fact, not just mine - I feel everyone else’s depression, too. There’s a persistent sadness enmeshed in the humidity of this city by the sea."


Reflection Through Broken Glass

Job Hunting for the Broken-Hearted

Alina Yasir Mughal

"I had prayed that no one asked about my experience in writing. The writing that I had termed as freelance content writing was actually doing homework assignments for rich Arab kids in the UAE … You can’t exactly write all of this out in a resume. It was frustrating being me. No wonder he had left me, even he couldn’t stand the person that I was"


Baking Dough

A Letter to My Sister

Zuha Siddiqui 

"I remember the first time I saw you bake ... I thought you didn’t know what you were doing  and then, magic began to pour through your fingers ... I noticed you looking at me ... as I took the first bite. The crust was flaky and crisp – it melted in my mouth. And I wish I could tell you now ... that everything you did was perfection."



Mothers and Daughters

Mahnoor Fatima



"Mother. Daughter. Cusps. At the beginning. At the end. Inversions. All she could have been. All I could become. Nothing alike. Everything alike."



An Other Country

Sarah Khawaja

 " It is not with nostalgia but with a more prosaic yearning that I look to Karachi: I want to forge something new, discover something fresh, rather than polish away the patina to reveal the sheen of a bygone era."



It Takes a Village

Maham Niazi

"They say you need a village to raise a baby ... What I've learnt from my health scare is, we often fail to recognise our blessings and sometimes it takes one of us nearly dying, to jolt our tribe into action. But ... when we're in need, when the time comes, our village arrives in full force"


Sad Girl in the Window


Tehmina Khan

"Is dard this heart which lies in pieces and doesn't know how to gather itself? When I am here, I am not there. When I am there, I am not here. ...

Who can teach me how to live with my heart in pieces on two separate continents? "



For Old Friends

Fatima Ijaz

"No one really knows you the way your childhood friends do. Is it because they’ve seen you grow up? Can the knowledge of who you were at 6, become damning for you?  … I somehow knew from that nascent time that I would build my own family. It would not be a family of blood ties, but rather of souls."



The Pakistani Dream

Sabahat Zakariya

" ...Pakistan cheerfully passed the baton from British colonialism to American imperialism to create yet another generation of teenagers who existed physically in the confines of their conservative country, but thrived mentally in the Upper East Side apartments that flashed across their television screens." 


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