It is my pleasure to organise Sascha Akhtar's Blog Tour this week for a unique short story collection which feels as though it will be on everyone's bookshelves over Christmas and the New Year.
Published in paperback on 14th October 2020 and available from 87 Press Direct for £10.00 here.
‘Of Necessity & Wanting’
by Sascha Akhtar
Of Necessity & Wanting is a collection of lyrical, atmospheric stories of varying lengths set in urban Pakistan. At its forefront are the concerns of people who are lower down on the metaphorical ‘chain’ of status and power, especially in the context of their symbiotic relationship with those they see as ‘other,’ 'privileged' or 'fair.' Akhtar's breathtaking prose, which combines social realism with complex and intricate plots, desires, and psychogeographies, represents a groundbreaking exploration of women’s rights, such as independence and emancipation, in South Asia.
About the author
Sascha Akhtar is a Poetry School Tutor and judge for the Streetcake Prize for Experimental Writing. Her course 'Breaking Through Writer's Block,' has been published by The Literary Consultancy, London as part of their ground-breaking #BeingAWriter programme. Known for her prolific poetry, Sascha Akhtar has also had her fiction published in BlazeVox, Tears In The Fence, The Learned Pig, Anti-Heroin Chic, MookyChick & Storgy. A book of translations of pioneering feminist fiction writer Hijab Imtiaz from the Indian Subcontinent is due in 2021 with Oxford University Press, India.
Sascha Akhtar reading from Of Necessity & Wanting, Oct 14th 2020 at The 87 Press Launch event, London. It was the only live event in London since March.
She reads from the last novella in the book: Janat Ki Huwa /The Air In Paradise.
"Sharply observed & tightly spun. Sascha has the eye of a poet & the ear of a wanderer. She writes precisely & lyrically. It’s a thing of beauty."
- Mohammad Hanif
"There is a familiarity in Akhtar’s characters that reminds us that, whomever or wherever we are, we share the same truths. Deliciously written, always entertaining and filled with striking imagery, Akhtar’s stories do the most magical thing - they show us who we are."
- Nik Perring
You can follow the tour using the handles above!
So far reviewers have said...
“Of Necessity and Wanting” is a tour through Karachi’s people, its class distinctions, its landmarks and streets. The characters are memorable and, although very aware of their station in life, are given agency to make changes. The lower classes dream and make do but don’t complain and moan about their lot. The wealthy are more comfortable but still subject to stringent social rules and the pressure to be seen doing the right things in the right places. Sascha Ahktar’s stories, when combined in one volume, feel like a love letter to a Karachi full of potential and beauty but shaped by people, commerce and a class system.
As each chapter progressed, I became more invested in this story and in the character Rumina, hoping she would fight against the expectations of her mother, to achieve the independence she wanted. What each chapter instead brought was a detailed and compelling insight into how these two conflicting desires can truly change a person in very complex ways. She wants to escape the control of her mother and have a new life outside of Pakistan, yet to do this she actually has to give into her mother’s wishes, to marry a rich husband who may provide her with happiness that comes with escaping. However, this isn’t a simple thing, and I commend the way Akhtar portrays the complexities of desires, of identities, of emotions that stem from social and familial pressures, to create a complicated, yet realistic, narrative.
I love the fact that there are only three stories in the collection, as it means they are longer than your average short story and you can fully immerse yourself in the story and the characters. Sometimes I struggle with short stories as they’re over too soon but these were a perfect length for me.