| Book Awards 2022 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
Born in a Karachi slum, Sharif Barkati became obsessed with “American” ideas of love and freedom at a very young age. He began to dream of a public place in the city that did not follow the rules, where people would be free to say and do whatever they wanted under open skies, away from the conservative eyes of Pakistani society.
With the help of his friend Afzal – and TJ, an extremely wealthy Pakistani-American – Sharif was able to realize his dream in the form of a colossal compound on the Karachi coast, full of bars, cafes, clubs, and the people of Karachi strolling about, hand in hand.
They called it Little America.
Now in prison, Sharif tells the story of his life in a letter to his favorite novelist, hoping that he will turn it into a literary masterpiece. At once a rollicking journey around the mind of a man desperate to be free, an allegory of the neocolonial endeavour, and an investigation of the desire to emulate the perceived superior while desperately trying to hold on to one’s own cultural identity, Little America asks the question: What, really, is freedom, and what can be sacrificed in its name?