Cover: Islam Gull
:A gem of an issue of Granta, writing from and about Pakistan.
Amid a cornucopia of riches, with the emphasis more on reportage than fiction, I was taken particularly by Fatima Bhutto's article. Mangho Pir is a Sufi shrine outside Karachi, where the crocodiles are revered as saints, and tended by the Sheedi community (in India, the word would be Sidi) - those of African descent who congregate in small clusters all the way along the Arabian Sea coast from Oman to Karnataka.
The Karachi Sheedi have great prowess as dancers and sportsmen - but otherwise are part of the ignored, forsaken underbelly of south Asia.
Jane Perlez writes of Jinnah, and the way he is memorialised in current-day Pakistan. Sarfraz Manzoor tells his warm but unsettling story of a British Asian 'marrying out'. And the peerless Basharat Peer humanises the story of the continuing conflict and despair in the Kashmir valley - powerful writing, though its inclusion in a volume entitled, starkly and simply, 'Pakistan', packs its own punch.
Mohammed Hanif, whose 'exploding mangoes' is perhaps the most powerful representation in fiction of modern Pakistan, contributes a short story - the human incident behind a riot ... a lovelorn, revolver-wielding, police thug who fires off at random to avenge his humiliation at the hands of a much more worldly-wise Karachi nurse.
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