City Notebook – An Evening with Bina Shah

Photos from Bina Shah Fan Page on Facebook and Text by The Karachi Walla

One fine evening The Karachi Walla was passing by the Liberty Books branch near BBQ tonight and saw an enticing invitation to attend a reading session by Bina Shah. Obviously it was for free but there is always a moral pressure to buy the author’s book which Karachi Walla did not mind. Its not everyday that you come across writers reading their work in public here in Karachi.

Bina Shah is one of few Pakistani writers who have made their name writing fiction in English. She has written four novels and two collections of short stories. Slum Child, from which the reading was done, was released in Italy in March 2009. The resemblance of the title to the Indian smash hit “Slumdog millionaire” was called into the question when floor opened for discussion. Bina politely explained that her book was released around the same time as “Q&A”. Another person asked the same question if her work was inspired by Slumdog. Bina replied that its Slum Child and not Slumchild millionaire. Coincidentally she shared the agent with Vikas Swarup and the same agent was adamant that Bina should stick to the current title for the book despite the foreseeable confusion. She further told that she preferred writing short stories and would love to have her work translated in Urdu and other regional languages. Responding to a question, she revealed that she was a descendant of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She was proud of the lineage.

The book has got mix reviews. Few critics have argued that Bina has gone too far and tried to tackle many issues using same character and plot. Is it so? You can only find by reading the book. Buy the book. You don’t find many books related to our slums anyways.

Few days after the session, BBQ tonight restaurant was invaded by political con activists. Only after few days of such beautiful evening.

These are the best of times, these are the worst of times*

*Charles Dickens on the eve of French Revolution

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  1. Karachi Notebook – An Evening with Bina Shah | Tea Break - May 2, 2011

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