2020 WINNER

PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN PAIN

Raniya Hosain

At just 21 years of age, Raniya Hosain is a precocious talent who had shown early promise when she won the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2014 at the age of 15. Hailing from Lahore, Raniya is currently studying for her Master’s degree in English Literature at King’s College, London and is working on launching a digital literary magazine called Spacebar.

 

Raniya’s experiential examination of womanhood in Pakistan weaves a picture that is at once personal and prosaic as well as universal and profound. The judges agreed that they had found an original voice with a striking command of her craft and were particularly impressed by the variety of genres on offer in her submission: “It’s comic, it’s sad, it’s angry. A clever, multi-dimensional piece which is full of memorable one-liners and razor-sharp wit.”

HIGHLY COMMENDED

BAD HOUSE

Ayesha Alizeh Arbab

An evocative piece of writing, that takes one seemingly mundane complaint and allows it to unfurl into an unsettling psychological study. The writing deftly creates a suffocating atmosphere and sense of foreboding, exploring the claustrophobia of the domestic sphere – a theme especially pertinent during lockdown.

Ayesha is a writer, artist and architect from Karachi, interested in exploring the relationship of the political to different art forms.

FATHERS BE GOOD TO YOUR DAUGHTERS

Tooba Masood-Khan

An unsentimental, but emotive description of a harrowing moment and a complex familial relationship told with impressive clarity and courage.

Tooba is a researcher and journalist based in Karachi. Her work has appeared in Dawn, Herald, Samaa Digital, NPR and HuffPo India. She’s interested in writing about Karachi’s old buildings and preserving archives. 

HAIRY

Sara Khan

A compelling piece of writing full of humour and wry wit that takes one absurd beauty standard and uses it to analyse overarching patriarchal structures. The author skilfully shows how western feminist theory is not always a match for lived reality in Pakistan.

Sara is a writer from Peshawar who thinks about writing more than she writes, and mostly she writes about women, or books, or books about women. She has an MA in Cultural Criticism from NYU and was an American Association of University Women International Fellow, and winner of The Missing Slate’s New Voices Competition in 2017. Her work has appeared in The News on Sunday.

INHERITANCE

Yumna Baloch

A warm, delicate and moving portrait of a complicated grandmother. Full of both grief and glory, it explores the hidden rebellions of women of different generations and examines how story-telling has a different sense of urgency for old and young.

 

Yumna is a lawyer based between Lahore and Islamabad. She occasionally writes stories as a respite from legal drafting. She believes in the healing power of behenchara and loves words in all their forms.

MOTI, SAAND

Angbeen Abbas

A brave memoir about how trying to conform to conventional notions of attractiveness in Pakistan manifests itself in debilitating body dysmorphia, and how the strength to resist such toxic pressure can be found in solidarity with other feminists.

 

Angbeen is from Lahore, and is currently an undergraduate at the London School of Economics. When she’s not busy narrowly avoiding essay deadlines, she writes and makes podcasts for LSE’s student newspaper, The Beaver. 

LONGLIST 2020

We can now reveal the names of the talented authors in our longlist. These submissions will be published on our website in early 2021.

  • A Desk of One’s Own    MEMOONAH ZAINAB

  • A Grief of One’s Own    MANAL AHMED

  • A Letter to My Dupatta    SASHA ZUBERI

  • Arrested Development    MUSFIRA SHAFFI

  • Be(Longing)    ALISHAE ABEED  

  • How She Lived for Us    MINAHIL KHAN

  • Last Conversations: What We Talk About When We Talk About Death    SAMIA ALTAF

  • Love Unspoken, Love Unheard    AIMUN FAISAL

  • My Own Worst Enemy    NOREEN SHARIF

  • On Swimming   KOMAL WAQAR

  • Porridge    ANAAM AFRIDI

  • Quarantine     SAIRA MAHMOOD

  • Teaching My Mother How to Pronounce Suicide    NUWERA AKMAL

  • The Art of Precious Scars    KEHKASHAN KHALID

  • The Gift of Life    ZAINAB HASSAN

  • The History, Art and Science of Being a Pakistani Woman    SANDHYA BARLAS

  • Threads    ARSALA JAMEEL FAROOQUI

  • To Taste Mundanity in Movement    NIRVANA AMJAD    

We have been staggered and heartened by the response to our call for submissions. We have received over 350 entries from every corner of Pakistan and some of that writing has been of a truly outstanding calibre. We are profoundly grateful that so many talented authors have trusted us to champion their work.

Such was the quality of writing on display that we struggled to limit our longlist to the necessary 24 pieces, and were forced to make some very difficult choices. We would like to commend all those who had the bravery and dedication to enter their work, and encourage them to continue with their writing.

Congratulations to the authors who have been longlisted. Your work has in so many cases demonstrated exactly what we have been looking for: an original voice.

 

Once again, our thanks to all who entered this year’s competition. Zeenat Haroon Rashid would be delighted by the fact there are so many Pakistani women who know that their stories are worth telling.