Book Talk: The secret of Pakistan's swish set

Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:00am EST
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By Tony Tharakan

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - When Maha Khan Phillips set out to write a novel as part of a creative writing program, she didn't have to look much further than her native Pakistan for ideas.

Partly inspired by her desire to change global perceptions about Pakistan, "Beautiful from This Angle" is a satire on Karachi's party circuit and the television media set against the backdrop of honor killings and a feudal society.

The novel, recently launched in India, revolves around columnist Amynah Farooqui and her two friends who set about making a documentary on violence against women and find the perfect subject in village woman Nilofer.

Phillips has previously published a children's novel but with "Beautiful from This Angle", the London-based financial journalist offers readers an insight into post-9/11 Pakistan.

The 34-year-old told Reuters in an email interview that Pakistan is a multi-dimensional country that needs to be portrayed more positively by the media.

Q: How much of 'Beautiful from This Angle' is inspired from real life?

A: "Well, it's satire. So I have taken a situation and a group of people and exaggerated them. But many stories in the book are based on real, albeit less dramatic events. The only story that is based entirely in truth and is shockingly underplayed, is Nilofer's story.

"My family has a farm close to Rahim Yar Khan and there was a woman there who was treated as brutally as Nilofer claimed to be treated in the book. I remember that my father had to bring her into our house and stand guard with a gun because her husband and his mother wanted to kill her. It was very shocking to me."   Continued...