BOOK REVIEW: KARACHI, YOU’RE KILLING ME!

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I just finished “Karachi You’re Killing Me” by author Saba Imtiaz, and realized I have to recommend it to everyone I know. Firstly, the title gets a 10/10. Who doesn’t feel like karachi is the cause of all their problems, big or small? Even if karachi isn’t literally killing the potential readers of this book, we all like to tell ourselves that it is at the very least, metaphorically the cause and solution of ALL our troubles. Secondly, the cover illustration is intriguing and enticing enough to grab your attention. A book you can judge by the cover, this is a must read this summer!
After a long time, this has to be one of the rare books that actually captures karachi life. And I don’t mean that in the emotional dramatic way. It captures day to day life; the boredom, the heat, the people, and the food. “Karachi You’re Killing Me” follows the life of your average cynical 20 something female struggling through life living with parents under the same roof, and with an underpaying job under a less than appreciative boss. (Sounds familiar?) She has a tight but small circle of friends but generally seems to hate people. (Rings a bell? It does for me!) That’s the point, we can all relate to her at some level throughout the book.

The main character Ayesha is your average rebellious Karachiite forced to conform to rules in society and at her job at a newspaper office. Her survival is heavily dependent on the life-of-the-party friend Zara and the best friend who lives in Dubai but returns ever so freely to karachi for quick weekend get aways, Saad. The nature of the laid-back, fun relationship between the 3 is set from the get go as the book opens on New Years Eve in Karachi. This opening was enough to win me over from the start – the description of the party, the people present and the overall exhaustion in having to socialize in spite of not wanting to but because its New Years it would be rude not to; and of course the mention of the road blocks really takes any reader back to their recent most New Years experience, and you know immediately in that instance that the author has really hit home with this opening.

The diary style format of the book is reminiscent of The Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, which follows the life of pre pubescent Adrian ages 13 ¾ till the ripe age of 39 ¼. Adrian Mole was definitely one of my favorite characters growing up and definitely the type of book you re read several times, so this is a big compliment for Saba Imtiaz. Aside from this winning comparison, let’s throw in another 10 points to the author for addressing and speaking ever so nonchalantly about all that is taboo in Pakistan. I don’t need to point out exactly what that includes because I know you know what I mean…but JUST IN CASE you don’t get what I mean, I am appreciating the casual manner alcohol, sex and drugs that are mentioned and hold a fairly significant part of the plot. It’s not done in an over the top manner that makes you think it’s only there for the sake of show, but rather with a level of authenticity that forces you into accepting an average Karachiite’s life as it is – in case you were still living in the 60’s and in massive denial.

Overall the book is highly entertaining. The protagonist in the story has a sarcastic sense of humor, and has an “oh snap” personality that you secretly know you would enjoy having some funny banter with. The story line itself gets a little predictable – sure. And the ending is sadly neatly tied up and a little Bollywood bow, but the journey to the end is definitely worth reading for the laughs and the undeniable feeling of being able to associate with the character and her everyday life. I read the book cover to cover over the span of an incredibly slow weekend, so it’s something you should grab for a Sunday in bed or a long flight. “Karachi You’re Killing Me” is relatable, hilarious, and just the right dose of karachi for all.

Written By Fatima Afzal

Fatima Afzal is an architect by day and a photographer by night

 

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