This week’s list collects the best recent nonfiction about one of the most complex and misunderstood countries in the world, from Fatima Bhutto, niece of Benazir Bhutto and author of the forthcoming Songs of Blood and Sword.
Mubashir Hasan, Mirage of Power
Dr. Hasan is a national treasure — a founding member of the Pakistan People’s Party (in its original, leftist socialist form), former finance minister, founding member of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, and a committed social activist. This book offers a rare insight into the power of the Pakistani civil and military establishment during its first democratically elected government, and takes apart the International Monetary Fund and its debt dealings with Pakistan, among many other hobgoblins.
This Pakistani newspaper takes no prisoners, most of the time. The News took out full page ads against the Pervez Musharraf dictatorship, prints front page salvos every time the current Asif Ali Zardari government attacks the media and comes out with a new censorship initiative, has the best reporting from the northern fronts of the country in the form of brave and thorough journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai, and doesn’t let political politeness or friendships get in the way of their work. When the News is good, and allowed to operate freely, it’s really, really good.
Tariq Ali, The Duel
Pakistan and America’s dirty relationship archived by Pakistan’s foremost historian and political commentator. You don’t get much better than Ali when it comes to the murky waters of Pakistani politics.
Granta Magazine issue 112
The respected journal does a Pakistan issue, out in September. Fresh essays from Pakistani novelists, poets, and journalists with a few honorary Pakistanis in the mix. Daniyal Mueenudin, Kamila Shamsie, and more. Should be hard to find the words "most dangerous country on earth" — hopefully.
Basharat Peer, Curfewed Night
Understanding Kashmir is central to understanding Pakistan, the horrors of Partition, and the country’s relationship with India today. Peer, himself Kashmiri, chronicles life under the most militarized zone in the world. His writing is courageous, his style part memoir part reportage, and his politics passionate and critically argued — a must-read for anyone interested in South Asia.