- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press (3 February 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807003360
- ISBN-13: 978-0807003367
- Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.4 x 23.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,49,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan Hardcover – 3 Feb 2015
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"The Upstairs Wife” does manage to cover so much ground so skillfully, casting a sharp eye on complicated personal politics and affairs of state alike."
—New York Times
"The Upstairs Wife weaves emotion, historical fact, and a young person’s wonder at her world into an exquisite tale of patriarchy, conflict, love, hope and hate… The story that unfolds is both memorable and magnificent.”
“A dense, carefully rendered work of minute, memorable detail.”
“In this emotionally generous, beautifully written memoir, Rafia Zakaria tells two stories that are really the same story. One is the descent of Pakistan into violence, poverty, corruption, and extremist Islam; the other is the smoldering misery of family life in which women have little power, except, sometimes, over each other. The Upstairs Wife is a revelation.”
—Katha Pollitt, poet, essayist, and columnist for The Nation
“Rafia Zakaria’s gorgeous prose and brave storytelling transported me into the center of a region I’ve struggled to understand in a way no newspaper article or history book ever could. Better yet, she made me love the women there—their woundedness, their resilience, their uncertain future. The personal and the political collide in this beautiful memoir of Pakistan.”
—Courtney E. Martin, author of Do It Anyway
“From a window in the upstairs of her family’s house, Rafia Zakaria parts the curtain, looks down on Pakistan, and writes its history. The Upstairs Wife roams between the lives of a family and the life of a nation—and finds itself in the heart of a society that is much maligned and little understood.”
—Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations
“What a tour de force! Rafia Zakaria’s The Upstairs Wife is a masterful tapestry. Through the eyes of Karachi’s women, the beauty and horrors and mysteries of Pakistan are laid bare. Zakaria elegantly weaves personal memoir with historical treatise, showcasing a breathtaking literary talent.”
—Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Code Pink and author of Drone Warfare
“Zakaria captures polygamy’s emotional toll on wives: the depression, self-doubt, and jealous calculations that poison the politics of intimacy.”
“If it weren’t for the personal bravery of women like…Rafia Zakaria, and the countless other Muslim women fighting hard to reclaim their rightful space in public and private, as well as —personal and political arenas, the no-go zones for Muslim women would continue to expand.”
About the Author
Rafia Zakaria is an author, attorney, and human rights activist who has worked on behalf of victims of domestic violence around the world. She is a columnist for Al Jazeera America, Ms., Dissent, and DAWN, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper. Zakaria was born and raised in Karachi and now lives in Pakistan and the United States, where she serves on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The parallel story in the book about author’s Aunt Amina was depressing and heartening, whereby Uncle Sohail and his two wives lived in two separate stories of the same house for twenty years. There was not only a great animosity between the two wives to the extent that had not seen each other until the very end of the book. From personal experience, I can tell you that this is highly unusual situation. While I was growing up in Pakistan, I knew of only one family with two wives to a man. I did not know all the details of their relationships; of course, but it was certainly not anything like that the trio in the book.
Zakaria’s book is written very well. Once I started the book, I had a hard time in putting it down. As far as I know, The Upstairs Wife is Zakaria’s first book. I look forward to reading her future creations. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a well written story detailing the poignant history of Karachi.