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God's Own Land: A Novel of Pakistan

Shaukat Siddiqui
Paul Norbury/UNESCO
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Recently serialised on Pakistan television, God's Own Land is set in the slums of Karachi and Lahore. It is the early 1950s, shortly after partition with India. The story concerns a poor but respectable Pakistani family which has fallen on hard times. Corruption and degradation take over their lives. Jobless, and without any real hope of a better life, they find themselves in the clutches of unprincipled entrepreneurs who exploit each of them - totally. The tragic, but deeply moving finale, is inevitable. The author, Shaukat Siddiqi, is considered one of the most talented of modern Urdu writers. The translator, David J. Matthews, points out that for those who know Pakistan they will realise that little has changed in the last forty years: 'The bright lights of Karachi and Lahore, the smart shops and hotels mask the fact that so many of our fellow human beings are still dying of hunger through no fault of their own. It might be ascribed to the will of Allah, to fate or destiny, but suffering is normal in the course of life.'