Karachi is beautiful

Life like a blown windshield

Life like a blown windshield

Brutal and yet beautiful: The Pakistani author Bilal Tanweer, 33, has made a bomb explosion in Karachi the focus of his debut novel “The world doesn't stop” and is attracting international attention.

Brutal and yet beautiful: the Pakistani author Bilal Tanweer, 33, has made a bomb explosion in Karachi the focus of his debut novel “The world does not stop” and is attracting international attention. Tanweer describes Karachi as “broken, beautiful and born of brutal violence” - he sees Pakistan's largest city symbolized in the image of a blown windshield. How a network of cracks runs around the bullet hole: his city, Karachi, is such a web. In his debut novel, he tells of the stark life in this city. Like the splinters around the bullet hole, he arranges his various narrative fragments around the central event of a bomb explosion.

Flashlights on blatant life

The slim novel lives from the spectrum of extremely different people: rip-offs and survivors alongside poets, children, women. There is comrade Sukhanaz, an old poet who was a political activist and was imprisoned for it. One day he meets a young man on the bus who is just about to give up and who is helped by the conversation with Sukhanaz. In another scene, a young girl secretly meets a man on the stairs to talk to him - when the grandmother sees her next to him, she is dragging her granddaughter by the hair down the stairs and exposing her in front of everyone. Tanweer throws flashes of light on some of Pakistan's big problems: the lawlessness of women and religious minorities, terrorism and immense poverty. Then the explosion happens - as a reader you first experience it from an apartment on the fifth floor, where the windows explode and a man crawls away in fear of death - only gradually does one understand that he is the son of comrade Sukhanaz, who is full of this fear of death Thinking resentment of his father who always neglected him. The book is also a puzzle game that always tests whether the reader is awake enough for this extreme city of Karachi: the stories are told from different perspectives.

"Crows are winged rubbish"

Karachi is one of the most dangerous cities in the world and has the highest murder rate anywhere. In 2013, 3,000 people died here as victims of violence. Tanweer has the linguistic ability to break open images: There is a poetic sentence like: "At this time, at 11 o'clock in the morning, the sea seemed to be Karachi's only dream that came true every day ..." - but he talks about it right away Crows looking for prey on the beach, slamming against each other in the air, “as wild and thoughtless as children who do not yet know the rules of the game. In a way, the crows embodied the spirit of this city. I thought they looked like winged rubbish. " Bilal Tanweer manages not to glorify and still create beauty.