Shahabnama – Qudrat Ullah Shahab
Shahabnama is a a memoir of Qudratullah Shahab. For some he is a revered sufi, an eminent Urdu writer or a seasoned bureaucrat. There are many invaluable lessons on life, the book teaches us that life is fragile and should be treated as such where every moment needs to be cherished and every relationship savored, for those who sometimes get busy and neglect the simple, more beautiful meaningful things in life, Shahabnama would be a wake up call.
There are chapters filled with laughs, cries and inspirations, future of Pakistan, the corruption of bureaucrats, civil servants, ministers and rulers. If any witness can define the struggle of independence, British influence over Indian mindset, post-independence fate of Muslim struggle, causes of political instability in West Pakistan, sentiments in 1965 war, fall of Dhaka 1971 and Pakistan’s hapless political leadership after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam; I would call him Qudrat Ullah Shahab. He also writes about his short but interesting meetings with some great personalities like “The Quaid-e-Azam”, a night in Masjid-al-Aqsa, and in the end the most important chapter about his connection with mysticism which belongs to Owaisiah chain of sufism.
I have to confess Shahabnama is my all time favorite and a must read for every Pakistani.
Indus Saga – Aitazaz Ahsan
Indus Saga covers the history of Indus Valley from the ancient times to the most recent days. It covers the religious background of all the tribes and civilizations, their cultural values, their economic standards and their downfalls. It begins from the days of the Indus Valley Civilization tracking it down to the creation of Pakistan. The book covers all the details that are necessary for every Pakistani to understand the situation in the Indus Valley. Especially in the pre-partition times when East India Company set foot and slowly crept into the civilization till the creation of Pakistan.
40 Rules of Love – Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak has set the book in two alternate time planes where the sub plot is a second narrative in the distant past created through a book manuscript that our protagonist Ella is reading. The manuscript speaks of Rumi and Shams of Tabriz and the undying love of their friendship that they shared for a brief time but were destined to have it throughout their lives. Whereas, Ella is on her quest of love after a failed love life of over three decades. The book is a must read for it unfolds the concept of loving beyond gender, beyond boundaries and take you to the love of God.
Khaled Hosseini illustrates a tale of redemption and betrayal that revolves around Amir and Hussain set in Kabul, Afghanistan. The two boys are expert at kite flying and are like brothers to each other. Amir in the midst of war betrays his best friend Hassan before fleeing to America with his father and thus begins Amir’s struggle for redemption. The book tells the story of two friends but carries the wisdom of many intellectuals. A simple take on life that can teach us how to overcome our own demons.
A Case of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammad Hanif
Mohammad Hanif, an activist and a journalist in Pakistan reproduces the events that revolve around the airplane explosion that took General Zia-ul-Haq’s life. The bomb was reported to be placed in a crate of mangoes. Hanif takes on Zia’s regime with his dark humorous and slapstick style building it around deserts, generals, spies and cover-ups. He also takes on the Zia’s policies that has created many discrepancies since the time. However, all in all the novel covers how a few men can control the lives of millions through their position of power.
Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Alchemist is a soft tale of a barn boy who sets out for the world beyond his father’s farm and lands far far away following his own intuitions. He is looking for the great Alchemist who can turn anything into gold and he dreams of a treasure that would solve all his problems. Paulo Coelho in his simple metaphoric way explains how things are in the system of the world through the struggle of a barn boy who learns many lessons in his journey, falls in love, falls sick only to emerge out of everything to fulfill his dreams.
Things Falling Apart – Chinua Achebe
”Things Fall Apart” is the first book of the Chinua’s trilogy that gives us a deep insight in the Nigerian culture. You must be wondering how is that related to Pakistani readers? Well, the book gives us an insight into the culture much similar to ours. Where emotional and angry decisions of a single man in power force the community to suffer the consequences and where things are just as bad yet could be as promising as they are in Pakistan.