Publishers: Aleph Book Company
Genre: Non fiction
I confess, I love reading about controversial people because I believe there are two sides to every story.
This was the hardest book I ever had to review. Maher has handled the topic with such poise and has given full justice to Qandeel’s story.
I had first heard about Qandeel when her videos became viral in India after the Pakistan cricket team lost a match against us in March 2016. Her videos were fast circulating on WhatsApp with the tagline, “Drama queen of Pakistan”. I suddenly became interested in this woman’s life and used to closely follow her online developments. She garnered lots of fans in India who were calling her the Rakhi Sawant of Pakistan. Then I heard she was killed in the name of honor by her own brother in July 2016. I admit I was a little shaken and sad. The girl just wanted attention and she was doing whatever she could boldly and confidently. Honor killings are horrifying and I wanted to know more about her life.
This book starts with the news of Qandeel’s murder making headlines on national television and the tug of war between news channels about capturing the footage of her body and their tussle in interviewing her family. This book answered all my questions about Qandeel and why was she suddenly in the news. Very wonderfully written, this book highlighted all the people who knew Qandeel from her beginning, people who were sad that she was killed, people who were praising her brother for killing her.
I appreciate Maher for unflinchingly describing the details of her life. Maher not only highlighted Qandeel’s life but also the important aspects of Social media. The rise of cyber bullying, the upside and downside of social media, in this case, perfect example being Arshad Khan, the famous “Chai wala” who garnered attention because of his eyes and his brooding gaze. How people like Nighat Dad, who runs DRF(Digital rights foundation) and a helpline for women who are victims of cyber bullying.
People made fun of her videos and her video with Mufti Abdul Qavi, the cleric from Multan who was always in the news. It wrecked havoc on his life as well.
Qandeel led a hard and a rough life. People blaming her for bringing down the Baloch name, accusing her of not being a Baloch and threatening to sue her. Her life was not easy. Still, she supported her family by doing all what she could. Disowned after leaving her husband and son, she decided to live life on her own terms, unabashedly and confidently.
I love the writing, the natural way of telling the story and most of all the painstaking research that was done to make this book! Hats off Sanam Maher!
Rest in power Qandeel Baloch.
Thank you Aleph book company for sending me a review copy of this book.
All opinions are my own.
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You can get a copy for yourself here.