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Attar of Roses and Other Stories of Pakistan

Tahira Naqvi
Attar of Roses and Other Stories of Pakistan
ISBN: 978-0-89410-808-2
ISBN: 978-0-89410-809-9
1997/145 pages/LC: 97-15869

"[A] gemlike collection of short stories." —Fawzia Afzal-Khan, World Literature Today

"I recommend Nahira Naqvi's Attar of Roses to anyone who is interested in the portrayal of middle class family life in Pakistan. This collection of short stories, devoid of stylistic pretension, is refreshing and honest in its depiction.... Naqvi's nuanced expression is a pleasure to read." —Bapsi Sidhwa, The Journal of Asian Studies


"Not sure if he were imagining it or if it were indeed real, he inhaled a familiar scent, rose attar, the fragrance that had consumed him in his sleeping and waking hours.... she was there! He spotted and recognized the black sandals, saw the hands, pale and lovely, the black glass bangles catching the light of the sun like flames leaping out in the darkness."—Excerpt from "Attar of Roses"

These everyday tales told with verve and passion provide a glimpse into Pakistani society, from family relationships, marriage, and rites of passage, to societal roles and the impact of political change. But the backdrop of Pakistan does not limit their scope. In "Attar of Roses," a schoolmaster's obsession with a woman whose face he never sees, although rooted in the custom of veiling, also exemplifies the universal yearning for the unattainable. Similarly, the young wife in "The Notebook" symbolizes the plight of all women who experience an intellectual awakening while struggling against oppression.

Naqvi weaves together imagery and tone in a way that enables the reader to feel an affinity for a culture that may, at first glance, seem distant and impenetrable. Romantic, humorous, acerbic, and vibrant, her stories both inform and entertain.


Originally from Pakistan, Tahira Naqvi now lives in the United States with her husband and three sons. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Government College, Lahore, and also an M.S. in English education from Western Connecticut State University, where she has taught English for thirteen years. Her short stories have been widely anthologized and her translations (from Urdu) of well-known Indian and Pakistani writers have been published in the US, Europe, and Asia. Her second collection of short stories, Beyond the Walls, Amreeka, is forthcoming in 1998, and she is working on her first novel.