Faiza Virani in Dawn:
Ayesha Khan, a young, single female reporter in Karachi, despises the elite in Pakistan. That much is clear from the onset of Saba Imtiaz’s debut novel, Karachi, You’re Killing Me!, as the protagonist mocks her boss / editor being gifted the newspaper she is employed at by his industrialist father on his 26th birthday “following a giant tantrum.” References to Agha’s and Okra follow suit, as the narrative is grounded into an us versus them tone while readers are introduced to the novel’s characters and plot. Imtiaz presents a gritty yet humourous narrative that takes the reader through the inner workings of a national newspaper, political rallies, literature festivals and socialites at fashion week. We experience all this through a reporter’s lens as Ayesha jets from pressers to rallies in rickshaws and taxis all the while working through her plentiful personal issues, topmost among which is finding a suitable man to date in the wasteland that is Karachi.
In describing life as usual, Imtiaz takes on the many serious issues facing journalists in the field today — safety (or lack thereof), the deficient infrastructure and support, and the alarming rate at which journalists are being recruited by political parties to report as required. The story is told uniquely, from an advantage point of Imtiaz’s years spent being a reporter in Karachi for one of the country’s leading newspapers. Imtiaz aptly packs Karachi’s myriad idiosyncrasies and nuances neatly into a narrative that spans everything that is relative to and reflective of Karachi’s inherent fabric — from the bomb blasts to terrorism reports, the CNG crisis, politicians’ tiresome and endless security detail and much more, highlighting what is necessary to grasp quickly all that is wrong with Karachi today.