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SAI Book Talk

Omar Shahid Hamid, Author

Chair: Anila Daulatzai, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Islamic Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Omar Shahid Hamid has served with the Karachi police for twelve years, most recently as head of counterterrorism. During his service, he has been actively targeted by various terrorist groups and organizations. He was wounded in the line of duty and his office was bombed by the Taliban in 2010. He left Karachi for a sabbatical when there were too many contracts on his life. He has a master’s in criminal justice policy from the London School of Economics and a master’s in law from University College London.

Much like the protagonist in his police procedural, The Prisoner, Hamid was forced to navigate the byzantine politics, shifting alliances, and backroom dealings of Karachi police and intelligence agencies. In his novel, Hamid exposes that dark side of Karachi, as only a police officer could. His writing has garnered praise for rejecting a romanticized take on slum life—as is characteristic in Pakistani English literature—in favor of gritty realism.

A thinly veiled fictional interpretation of real-life events, the novel follows Constantine D’Souza, a Christian police officer charged with rescuing kidnapped American journalist Jon Friedland (a.k.a., 2002 captured Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl). With no leads, D’Souza recruits Akbar Khan, a rogue cop imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit (modeled on Pakistan’s famed take-no-prisoners officer Chaudhry Aslam Khan). Caught between Pakistan’s militant ruling party and the Pakistani intelligence agencies, D’Souza finds himself in a race against time to save a man’s life—and the honor of his nation.

Book sale to follow.