A glance at Karachi saga “Karachi You Are Killing Me” by Saba Imtiaz   

By   Hina Rafique

The depiction of socio-political life and culture in Karachi    

The proposed study underhand focuses upon the social, cultural, economical and political life in Karachi-a metropolitan city of Pakistan as depicted by the new emerging Pakistani female writer Saba Imtiaz in her latest debut novel. Since Pakistani literature is booming up with narratives related to Karachi, the present novel is another fashion buzz by Saba, who with her journalistic jargon or media register has recently appeared on the literary scenario. Karachi a city reeked with alcohol and crime, mugging and violence, has been focused upon from the perspective of 28 years old Ayesha an active career oriented journalist. From social deterioration to power politics, from open squares to narrow broken down buildings, everything has been brought to lime light realistically and graphically. Being a journalist, she is on 24 hours call to cover scene of mugging, rape, bomb blast(violence), CNG crisis, political upheavals and many more scenes of social deterioration and has“ timeline to research, violent religious extremist to interview”(198).

According to her, this is a city where people are obsessed with Hamsafer drama being lunched at Hum TV and Turkish Soap operas. Where the desirable casual and social dress for females is to wear kurtas. Let me quote the writer herself:”Find lucky reporting Kurta every time- a faded red shirt..and worn every time I have landed a good story”(16),and indeed fadded khadi kurtaas(97).The fashion week with catwalk on ram where “every designer describe their line mantra of Pakistani designers ..a fusion of Eastern sensibilities with western cuts is also screened by descriptive art of Saba. Her job is to know “who is wearing what, what the next big trend is going to be”(96). From booming restaurants to the largest book festivals ever held at any other place in Pakistan, Ayesha the enthusiastic reporter is found everywhere to cover the latest events and political news. Besides, the beloved food of Karachitte’s is haleem indeed and we are told:”Chili chips are part of Karachitte’s DNA”(222). Where to drink alcohol to ward off fatigue ,boredom and tension is as in fashion as to change designers kurtas.

The study also intends to probe into not only socio-cultural life of Karachitte but also investigates strong political power structures operating within city to lend its hand in criminal world. The text spells out the views of the author related to politician, and land mafia at several places in the novel. These surrealistic images bear authenticity no doubt. She observes, “And the diplomats always put up a chunk of money, which means we have to put up a chunk of money, which means we have to sit through their unending speeches”(48). How power and money emerges as two instigators to keep so called high standards of morality of Political authorities and religious extremists. From how” the MQM decided to call a strike” to “a press release of Jamiat- e-Islamia railing against Turkish Soap operas” everything has been dealt in superbly.

The role of social media networking i-e Twitter, whatsup, facebook is the handy device utilized by Saba .Almost all the news circulate in text through their active and in time usage,…. a youngster stuff  it is ….qualifying her position as a writer belonging to modern age of racy technology. Gone were the days of mobile usage and laptops, this is an age of Android mobiles with active usage of twitters and whatsup. We are told at one place that “Kamran is obsessed with face book likes and tweets”(112).

The racy life of Karachi….”this good for nothing city”(93) has been matched with racy twisty vocabulary used by the writer to give the reader sensation of using the language in vogue. She is indeed matchless in adopting crispy, racy, short and abbreviated modern usage of language as it is being used in Pakistan among youngsters. Besides ,each and every line appears to belong to media register. See the abrupt usage” TEXT FROM ZARA ,I HATE YOU FOR BEING THERE”(103). Even the chapters have headings just like news bulletins and captions in newspapers i-e chapter 11 bears heading” Headline of the day: City wears anti-dengue look”(196).See how close to reality, to the very surroundings, she utilizes and chooses words to insert in her narrative. The use of ‘FUCK Fuck Fuck ‘is repeatedly used word to show frustration of Ayesha. Nevertheless, the narrative does not have a developed on plot, basically it is a collection of surrealistic images presented from a reporter’s coverage of events in air but so coherently it is packed up, that no breakage of thought pattern can be discerned while going through the pages of this Karachi saga. The reader feels altogether in the grip of the narrative art of Saba Imtiaz, rushing with her to feel the sensation and multi- colored life or culture of Karachi.


IMTIAZ,SABA. “Karachi You Are Killing Me”. Random House Limited:India.2014.

Hina Rafique  is a research scholar also Assistant Professor of English linguistics and Literature

at Government Postgraduate College for Women, Gujranwala, Pakistan.