Jamil Ahmad (writer)

Last updated
Born1 JUNE 1931
Died12 July 2014
Occupation Novelist, Short story writer
Awards Sitara-e-Imtiaz (2016)
Shortlisted for Man Asian Literary Prize (2011)

Jamil Ahmad (1931–2014) was a Pakistani civil servant, novelist and story writer. He wrote in the English language. He is known for his anthology, The Wandering Falcon which was short listed for Man Asian Literary Prize, widely known as Asia's highest literary award, in 2011. The book was also a finalist for DSC prize for South Asian Literature in 2013. [1]

Pakistan federal parliamentary constitutional republic in South Asia

Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world’s sixth-most populous country with a population exceeding 212,742,631 people. In area, it is the 33rd-largest country, spanning 881,913 square kilometres. Pakistan has a 1,046-kilometre (650-mile) coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China in the far northeast. It is separated narrowly from Tajikistan by Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor in the northwest, and also shares a maritime border with Oman.

The Man, Asian Literary Prize was an annual literary award between 2007 and 2012, given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year. It is awarded to writers who are citizens or residents of one of the following 34 Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, The Maldives, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam. Submissions are invited through publishers who are entitled to each submit two novels by August 31 each year. Entry forms are available from May.


He died on 12 July 2014. [2]


The Wandering Falcon, says Kashmiri writer, Basharat Peer, one of the finest collections of short stories to come out of South Asia in decades. [3]
This is not a book in which a central protagonist will walk down a path and invite the readers to follow him, narrative and personality cohering around him along the way, wrote writer, Kamila Shamsie, Instead, it is a book of glimpses into a world of strict rules and codes, where the individual is of far less significance than the collective. [4] [5]

Jamil Ahmad was born in Punjab, in the erstwhile undivided India, in 1931. After early education in Lahore, he joined the civil service in 1954, [3] and worked in the Swat valley, a remote Hindu Kush area, near Afghan border. During his career, he worked at various remote areas such as the Frontier Province, Quetta, Chaghi, Khyber and Malakand. His experiences in these tribal valley assisted him in his work which was mainly focused on the lives of the tribal villagers. He also served at the Pakistani embassy in Kabul during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. [6]

Punjab, Pakistan Province in Pakistan

Punjab is Pakistan's second largest province by area, after Balochistan, and it is the most populated province, with an estimated population of 110,012,442 as of 2017. Forming the bulk of the transnational Punjab region, it is bordered by the Pakistan provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the enclave of Islamabad, and Azad Kashmir. It also shares borders with the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. The provincial capital of Punjab is the city Lahore, a cultural, historical, economic and cosmopolitan centre of Pakistan where the country's cinema industry, and much of its fashion industry, are based.

Lahore Metropolis in Punjab, Pakistan

Lahore is a city in the Pakistani province of Punjab. Lahore is the country's second-most populous city after Karachi, and is one of Pakistan's wealthiest cities with an estimated GDP of $58.14 billion (PPP) as of 2015. Lahore is the largest city, and historic cultural centre of the Punjab region, and one of Pakistan's most socially liberal, progressive, and cosmopolitan cities.

Hindu Kush mountain range near Afghanistan and Pakistan border

The Hindu Kush, also known in Ancient Greek as the Caucasus Indicus or Paropamisadae, is an 800-kilometre-long (500 mi) mountain range that stretches near the Afghan-Pakistan border, from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan. It forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region (HKH). It divides the valley of the Amu Darya to the north from the Indus River valley to the south.

He married Helga whom he met during his London years, who was critical of his early attempts at poetry but diligently tried to promote his work, [4] The Wandering Falcon, which was nominated for Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011. [3] The couple had two sons and a daughter at the time of his death. [7]


The Wandering Falcon can either be construed as a short story collection or a novel, based on differing perspectives. The book narrates the story of Tor Baz (the black falcon) and his travails through the remote tribal areas along the Pakistan - Afghan border where he experiences the lives of the ethnic pashtuns. [8] The stories travel through the strict code of conduct of the tribals known as pashtunwali, the lawlessness of the land where women are traded as commodity, adultery and anarchism, silhouetted against the Baluch desert landscape. [9] [10] The book received critical acclaim. [8] [9]

Pashtuns ethnic group belonging to Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Pashtuns, historically known as ethnic Afghans and Pathans, are an Iranian ethnic group who mainly live in Pakistan and Afghanistan in South-Central Asia. They speak the Pashto language and adhere to Pashtunwali, which is a traditional set of ethics guiding individual and communal conduct. The ethnogenesis of the Pashtun ethnic group is unclear but historians have come across references to various ancient peoples called Pakthas (Pactyans) between the 2nd and the 1st millennium BC, who may be their early ancestors. Their history is mostly spread amongst the present-day countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, centred on their traditional seat of power in that region.

Jamil Ahmad has also published a short story, The Sins of the Mother, which appeared on Granta112: Pakistan in 2010. [11]

<i>Granta</i> British literary magazine and publisher

Granta is a literary magazine and publisher in the United Kingdom whose mission centres on its "belief in the power and urgency of the story, both in fiction and non-fiction, and the story’s supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real." In 2007, The Observer stated: "In its blend of memoirs and photojournalism, and in its championing of contemporary realist fiction, Granta has its face pressed firmly against the window, determined to witness the world."

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