Pakistani cop Omar Hamid wins Karachi Litfest fiction prize second year in a row | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times
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Pakistani cop Omar Hamid wins Karachi Litfest fiction prize second year in a row

Police officer Omar Shahid Hamid’s third novel, The Party Worker, won the Karachi Literature Festival’s Fiction Prize for 2018. His second novel The Spinner’s Tale was the winner in 2017.

books Updated: Feb 13, 2018 18:43 IST
The Party Worker is a gritty account of the unsavoury but undeniable link between politics, crime, law enforcement, (some) media  and terrorism in Karachi.
The Party Worker is a gritty account of the unsavoury but undeniable link between politics, crime, law enforcement, (some) media and terrorism in Karachi. (Omar Hamid Twitter)

Pakistan police officer Omar Shahid Hamid has won the Karachi Literature Festival’s Fiction Prize 2018 for the second year running, triumphing over literary stalwarts like Nadeem Aslam, Kamila Shamsie and Mohsin Hamid.

Omar Shahid Hamid won the (Pakistani) Rs 300,000 award for his third book The Party Worker, a gritty account of the unprepossessing, unsavoury but undeniable link between politics, crime, law enforcement, (some) media and terrorism in Karachi. An officer of SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police) rank, he is a member of the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP).

The Party Worker (2017/Pan Macmillan India) trumped over Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Osama Siddique’s Snuffing out the Moon, while prevailing over Nadeem Aslam’s The Golden Legend, Faiqa Mansab’s This House of Clay and Water, Shandana Minhas’ Daddy’s Boy, Sami Shah’s Boy of Fire and Earth and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire in the longlist.

Omar Hamid’s first novel The Prisoner (2013) was loosely based on the Daniel Pearl kidnapping, and drew on his own experiences to show how police work is done amid political pressures and intervention by intelligence agencies. (Pan Macmillan)

Omar Shahid Hamid had also won the Karachi Literature Festival Getz Pharma Fiction Prize 2017 for his jihadi noir The Spinner’s Tale, about an ordinary youth’s transformation into an unconscionably brutal terrorist.

Omar Hamid’s first novel The Prisoner (2013) was loosely based on the Daniel Pearl kidnapping, and drew on his own experiences to show how police work is done amid political pressures and intervention by intelligence agencies. It was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 as was The Party Worker in 2017.

Hamid, 39, who maintains he “stumbled into writing accidentally”, chose noirish fiction as a medium, earlier telling IANS that his “experiences in police showed me that there were some tremendous stories that were waiting to be told, and I just started using those stories as material for my books”.

“And of course it helped that I faced some extremely challenging situations in my career, providing me with rich experiences,” said Hamid, who has survived being ambushed by gangsters, implicated by colleagues in a false case, and, as CID chief, barely escape the bombing of his office by the Pakistani Taliban.

Following the attack, he had taken a five-year sabbatical and returned to active duty in 2016. He is currently working on his fourth book.

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