The winner of this year’s Zeenat Haroon Rashid (ZHR) Writing Prize for Women is Alia Ahmed for her short story titled ‘Najma’.

The prize, which alternates between fiction and non-fiction each year, is open to women of Pakistani origin aged 18 and above and has a cash award of Rs100,000. It was established in 2019 and is now in it’s third year.

Over 250 entries were received and judged by a panel including novelists Kamila Shamsie and Hanif Kureishi, academic Maryam Wasif Khan and book editors Faiza S. Khan and Shan Vahidy.

Winner Ahmed is a journalist and editor whose work has appeared in Herald, Dawn, and the New York-based literary quarterly The Hudson Review.

Her story, ‘Najma’, is “an urban tragedy about an unlikely friendship between a wealthy, apathetic young woman and her seemingly self-assured driving instructor.” Displaying “first-rate writing skills”, it’s most striking accomplishment is the “unlikable voice of the narrator successfully evoking the casual callousness of privilege.”

The shortlisted entries include ‘Covers’ by Natasha Japanwala, ‘Dandelion Bloom’ by Zehra Nabi, ‘Growing Babies in Big Houses’ by Alizah Hashmi, ‘My Husband’s Mistress’ by Zofishan Umair and ‘The Woman Who Listened to Everybody’ by Sarah Abdullah.

‘Najma’ will be published in Eos and, along with the shortlisted stories, can be read on the official prize website

Published in Dawn, Books & Authors, November 14th, 2021

Most Popular



27 Nov 2021

Supporting ECP

ALTHOUGH the government bulldozed legislation on electronic voting machines through parliament, the reality is that...
27 Nov 2021

Forgiving the Taliban

IF there is one takeaway from Thursday’s gathering of more than 1,000 Shia Hazaras in Kabul, it is the call given...
Living in fear
Updated 27 Nov 2021

Living in fear

THE registration of a blasphemy case against four members of a family from a village on the outskirts of Lahore has...
26 Nov 2021

State Bank’s projections

THE macroeconomic projections listed by the State Bank of Pakistan in its annual report on the nation’s economy...
Ad distribution
Updated 26 Nov 2021

Ad distribution

If present govt can muster will to achieve this task it would set a solid precedent that no future govt would find easy to undo.
26 Nov 2021

Messy passengers

NEWS that passengers on a PIA flight from Manchester to Islamabad left so much litter on the plane that it led to a...