Personal Spaces – Shandana Minhas’

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“Shandana Minhas has two sons and lives in Karachi. Survival Tips for Lunatics is her second book. She is threatening to write a third.”

The Karachi Walla met her on a bright sunny day in May. Yousfi sb famously wrote that Karachi has two seasons; Summer and extreme Summer. That particular day could have been the beginning of Extreme Summer. A lazy fan was distributing hot air evenly through her beautifully decorated lounge. But soon I forgot about it as She was an engaging speaker with a subtle sense of humor which won her Fiction Prize at the KLF this year. For a children’s book. For a children’s book if you did not take a note.

Shandana Minhas’s debut novel, Tunnel Vision is story of a young lady. The story unveils in a steam of flashbacks while the protagonist is in coma. With her characteristic subtle humor its a brilliant portrayal of a young girl with a vividly described backdrop of the sprawling metropolitan of Karachi. The cover is a winner too with a face covered in a veil and a hazy picture of a thoroughfare. The tile according to her describes the protagonist and everyone around her aptly since everyone suffers from tunnel vision.

Her second novel takes us on an exhilarating ride which reminds me of childhood adventures I could never have. You could immediately connect with the characters and you sorely miss them when the adventure ends. It is not just a bed-time story and the selection of Baluchistan as a backdrop and use of various wild creatures and their voices inform reader of a less-trodden area and the impact of human viciousness on wildlife.

There were quite a few books in her personal collection. I could identify Graham Greene, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchet, Milan Kundera, Alice Munro, Murakami and a host of subcontinent writers. It certainly is not an insight in Shandana’s reading habits – much of my limited grasp of literature. I stepped into Shandana’s workplace which consisted of a workstation and a bookshelf. Her pink laptop bag was lying under the workstation.

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