Karachi Vice | Granta

  • Published: 04/02/2021
  • ISBN: 9781783785391
  • Granta Books
  • 272 pages

Karachi Vice

Samira Shackle

Karachi. Pakistan’s largest city is a sprawling metropolis of 20 million people. It is a place of political turbulence in which those who have power wield it with brutal and partisan force, a place in which it pays to have friends in the right places and to avoid making deadly enemies. It is a society where lavish wealth and absolute poverty live side by side, and where the lines between idealism and corruption can quickly blur.

It takes an insider to know where is safe, who to trust, and what makes Karachi tick, and in this powerful debut, Samira Shackle explores the city of her mother’s birth in the company of a handful of Karachiites. Among them is Safdar the ambulance driver, who knows the city’s streets and shortcuts intimately and will stop at nothing to help his fellow citizens. There is Parveen, the activist whose outspoken views on injustice corruption repeatedly lead her towards danger. And there is Zille, the hardened journalist whose commitment to getting the best scoops puts him at increasing risk. As their individual experiences unfold, so Shackle tells the bigger story of Karachi over the past decade: a period in which the Taliban arrive in Pakistan, adding to the daily perils for its residents and pushing their city into the international spotlight.

Writing with intimate local knowledge and a global perspective, Shackle paints a nuanced and vivid portrait of one of the most complex, most compelling cities in the world.

Any of the finely drawn characters in Karachi Vice could be the subject of an entire book - placed beside each other they form a tapestry that reveals a violent, vibrant, remarkable, battered city. I was completely gripped by it

Kamila Shamsie

A blistering tour of Karachi's mean streets, seen through the eyes of the people who know it best. Heart-breaking and compelling in equal measure. To understand the forces shaping the mega-cities of the global south, join Shackle's characters and get under the skin of Pakistan's largest

Ben Rawlence

Remarkable... compelling... This is a sensitive and elegantly constructed book, which offers a moving snapshot of a restless city and its resilient citizens

Prospect

The Author

SAMIRA SHACKLE is the editor of New Humanist magazine and a regular contributor to the Guardian Long Read She travels regularly to Pakistan, where she has family, and spent extensive time there working on the book. Karachi Vice is her debut.

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