by Claire Chambers
In my last post but one I pledged to continue my discussion of Benazir Bhutto’s two premierships and eventual assassination by examining the legacy she left behind for novelists to explore. Then, of course, the pandemic took hold, and I couldn’t not respond to the global health and welfare emergency. However, now the time seems right to keep my promise. The World Health Organization recently called for Pakistan to re-enter lockdown in some form following a terrifying upsurge of Covid-19 cases, an order that Imran Khan rejected on economic grounds. At a moment in history when Pakistan is crying out for decisive and empathetic leadership, let us consider the multilayered literary response to the country’s first and only female prime minister from three talented women writers.
In Maha Khan Phillips’ satirical novel Beautiful from this Angle (2010), the protagonist, Amynah, is a wealthy, well-educated socialite from Karachi. Amynah writes a scandalous gossip column, ‘Party Queen on the Scene’, but dreams of making a fortune through the publication of a fictional misery memoir about her oppression as a Muslim woman. Phillips intermixes reality and fabrication, as the novel culminates with Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on 27 December 2007. Read more »