22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Uzma Aslam Khan

Portrait Uzma Aslam Khan
© Hartwig Klappert

Uzma Aslam Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1969, and spent her childhood in Manila, Tokyo and London. When she was ten years old, her family decided to settle down in Karachi. After completing her studies in Karachi, Khan received scholarships to study in the United States, first in Upstate New York and then Arizona. She is the author of four novels, all of which were written in English.

Khan’s debut novel, »The Story of Noble Rot«, was published in 2001. In this family story, Khan uses her vibrant and vivid prose to show how human imagination is able to hold the present as well as the past tightly in its grip. The book received overwhelmingly positive reviews, especially in Pakistan and India. 2003 Khan published her second novel, »Trespassing«, which deals with the legacy of the Afghan War and Gulf War in Pakistan in the 1990s. The novel’s ruthless portrayal of the role played by the West in the Middle East conflict and the fact that it was completed only a couple of months before 9/11 led many to note its unsettling »prescience«. In her third novel, »The Geometry of God« (2008), Khan writes about things that remain hidden. She spins a complex story of a family living in Pakistan under the Zia-ul-Haq regime, starting with Amal, who, as a child, discovers the fossil of the ear of the first whale – or »dog-whale«, as she calls it. Later in life, against the wishes of her family and society, Amal becomes the first woman paleontologist to work alongside men in Pakistan to look for fossils of ancient whales. In this book, critics paid special attention to the author’s frank treatment of the themes of sexuality and shifting identities. In her fourth and most recent novel »Thinner Than Skin« (2012), Khan explores new geographical and literary realms. Alternating between three narrative perspectives, she sets her story in the magnificent mountainous north of Pakistan and Central Asia, among the glaciers, rivers and valleys of the old Silk Road. Critics have noted her capacity to contrast this beauty with loss, bereavement, and war, and her unflinching look at the problems faced by immigrants and indigenous peoples as they search for identity and justice, origin and home. In addition to novels, she also publishes regularly on a broad spectrum of political subjects.

Uzma Aslam Khan’s books have received many awards, including »Trespassing« being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize Eurasia 2003 and »The Geometry of God« being named one of »Kirkus Reviews’« Best Books of 2009. She was awarded the French Prize for Best Fiction at the Karachi Literature Festival for »Thinner Than Skin«, which was also nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014. Her novels have been published worldwide in several different languages. She lives in Massachusetts.