The Upstairs Wife

The Upstairs Wife

An Intimate History of Pakistan

eBook - 2015
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"A memoir of Karachi through the eyes of its women. Rafia Zakaria's Muslim-Indian family immigrated to Pakistan from Bombay in 1962, feeling the situation for Muslims in India was precarious and that Pakistan represented enormous promise. And for some time it did. Her family prospered, and the city prospered. But in the 1980s, Pakistan's military dictators began an Islamization campaign designed to legitimate their rule--a campaign that particularly affected women. The political became personal for Zakaria's family when her Aunt Amina's husband did the unthinkable and took a second wife, a betrayal of kin and custom that shook the foundation of her family. The Upstairs Wife dissects the complex strands of Pakistani history, from the problematic legacies of colonialism to the beginnings of terrorist violence to increasing misogyny, interweaving them with the arc of Amina's life to reveal the personal costs behind ever-more restrictive religious edicts and cultural conventions. As Amina struggles to reconcile with a marriage and a life that had fallen below her expectations, we come to know the dreams and aspirations of the people of Karachi and the challenges of loving it not as an imagined city of Muslim fulfillment but as a real city of contradictions and challenges"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Boston :, Beacon Press,, 2015
ISBN: 9780807003374
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor


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May 25, 2015

There’s a lot packed into this book. Zakaria manages not only to tell the story of the women in her family, but also gives a running history of Pakistan at the same time. Obviously, religion is as the center of women’s issues in Pakistan, but Zakaria, with her personal insight is able to give a straightforward account without apparent bias. The reader feels the deep commitment to Muslim beliefs but also the sadness at the repression of rights by the recent conservative movement sweeping the Islamic world. Her focus on her aunt, whose husband takes a second wife, is fascinating for it shows not only the grief of her aunt, but the love her uncle had for the second wife. After reading the book, it’s more clear than ever to me, that there are no easy answers. By framing a personal story with that of the national leader, Benazhir Bhutto, the only female president of Pakistan, Zakaria has created a story that is both poignant and revealing.


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