BINA SHAH is a Karachi-based author of five novels and two collections of short stories. Her previous novel, A Season for Martyrs, was published in the U.S., France, and India to critical acclaim, while her forthcoming feminist dystopian novel, Before She Sleeps, will be published by Delphinium Books in August 2018. A regular contributor to The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, and a frequent guest on the BBC, she has contributed essays and op-eds to Granta, The Independent, and The Guardian, and writes a regular column for Dawn. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is an honorary fellow in writing at the University of Iowa. She advocates for issues of women’s rights and female empowerment in Pakistan and across Muslim countries.
For more information on this author, visit http://www.binashah.net/
Last book read:
Disgrace by J.M Coetzee
The book that changed your life:
The Diary of Anne Frank, which I read at the age of 10 and took very seriously, adopting Anne’s ambition to be a famous writer as my own. For years I wrote my own diary and addressed it to Anne. It spurred something in me about the urgency of writing, which has been a hallmark of my work ever since. Writing has felt dangerous, urgent – and vital.
Your favorite literary character:
Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte). I also read this at the age of 10 (now you can see who my literary influences were in childhood) and I found something compelling about the lonely orphaned Jane, who grew such a hard shell to protect herself from heartbreak and sorrow. And yet her principles were so sound, and she was a strong woman, straightforward and honest, not given to girlish affectations or coquetry. But she loved so strongly, with all of her heart.
Currently working on:
Short stories – easing back into writing after four long years working on Before She Sleeps.
Words to live by:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Sophocles
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
Read everything you can get your hands on.
A Season For Martyrs
Toronto Review of Books https://www.torontoreviewofbooks.com/2016/09/bina-shahs-season-martyrs/
Publishers Weekly: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-88-328561-6
Dawn (Pakistan’s biggest English language newspaper) https://www.dawn.com/news/1148083
Free Press Journal www.freepressjournal.in/weekend/a-season-for-martyrs-by-bina-shah/1040816
New Indian Express www.newindianexpress.com/…/stuck-in-time-and-the-sindhi-rebellion-1546848.html
Television interview with BBC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB5xYtDkdB8
NPR on Karachi’s Literature
Khaleej Times https://www.khaleejtimes.com/sharjah-international-book-fair-2017/pakistani-as-a-country-not-well-understood-says-author-bina-shah–
The Asian Writer’s “Books to Read in 2018” theasianwriter.co.uk/2018/01/books-to-read-in-2018/
“Riveting and articulate, A Season for Martyrs by Pakistani journalist Bina Shah is the author’s debut novel for an American readership and clearly denotes her ability to deftly craft and complex story of suspenseful twists and unexpected turns that holds the reader’s total attention from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists.”
—Buzzfeed, “10 Amazing Female Novelists Under 50”
“History and memory have long fingers that reach into the present and beyond and in A Season for Martyrs Shah’s characters navigate that tenuous space between worlds beautifully.”
– The Toronto Review of Books
“With Bina Shah’s excellent writing and her skill as a storyteller, A Season for Martyrs becomes a haunting, memorable homage—to Sindh, to Bhutto, to the unnamed martyrs of a beautiful land.”
– New Indian Express
“We suspect she will continue to inform, inspire and – most importantly – bring her two worlds, Pakistan and America, together.”
“A complex and captivating novel.”
“Shah writes with grace and fluency, and it is clear from the start that her book reflects a maturity in style and skill at plot management that are the hallmarks of the seasoned writer. Shah writes about her native soil as only an insider can. What gives the novel additional warmth and luster is the manner in which she portrays legendary Sindhi heroes.”
— Midwest Book Review
“Good reading, urgently and cleanly told, for those interested in world events, as well as issues of identity.”
-Bapsi Sidhwa, author of Cracking India
“Listen to the voice of Bina Shah–you will hear a young, confident, compassionate new Pakistan.”
– Professor Akbar Ahmed, author, playwright, poet, and Chair of Islamic Studies at American University
“Shah’s novel is both fascinating and eye-opening.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Shah writes with grace and fluency.”