The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria ⋆ Green Woman Store

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria

$18.00 $15.30

A memoir of Karachi, Pakistan, through the eyes of its women. The parallel stories of polygamous marriage and Pakistan’s hopes and betrayals. An intimate exploration of exalted dreams and complicated realities. The author is a Muslim Pakistani-American journalist and human rights activist. Paperback.

Out of stock


Ships USPS Media Mail $3.98.
Usually Ships in 1 to 4 Days.

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria

For a brief moment on December 27, 2007, life came to a standstill in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, the country’s former prime minister and the first woman ever to lead a Muslim country, had been assassinated at a political rally just outside Islamabad. In Karachi, Benazir Bhutto’s birthplace and Pakistan’s other great metropolis, the author’s family was suffering through a crisis of its own. Raifa’s Uncle Sohail, the man who had brought shame upon the family, was near death. In that moment these personal and public catastrophes briefly converged.

Rafia begins her intimate exploration of the country of her birth with these intersecting events. Her Muslim-Indian family immigrated to Pakistan from Bombay in 1962. They escaped the precarious state of the Muslim population of India following the Partition. For Muslim-Indians, Pakistan represented enormous promise. And for some time, Rafia’s family and the city both prospered. But in the 1980s, Pakistan’s military dictators began an Islamization campaign. This campaign was designed to legitimate the rule of the military dicattors, and it particularly affected women’s freedom and safety.

The political became personal when Rafia’s Uncle Sohail took a second wife, a humiliating and painful betrayal of kin and custom that shook the foundation of Rafia’s family. This betrayal was permitted under the country’s new laws. Young Rafia grows up in the shadow of her aunt Amina’s shame and fury, while the world outside her home turns ever more chaotic and violent as the opportunities available to post-Partition immigrants are dramatically curtailed and terrorism sows its seeds in Karachi.

“The Upstairs Wife” tells the parallel stories of her aunt’s polygamous marriage and Pakistan’s hopes and betrayals. This is an intimate exploration of the disjunction between exalted dreams and complicated realities.

Publication Date: January 5, 2016. ISBN 978-0-8070-8046-7.

Rafia Zakaria is an author, attorney, and human rights activist who works on behalf of domestic violence victims around the world. She is a columnist for Al Jazeera America, Ms. Magazine, Dissent, and every Wednesday in DAWN, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper. She also writes for, Muslim Voices, The Hindu and South Asia.

Rafia serves on the board of directors of Amnesty International USA. She was born and raised in Karachi, India. She now lives in Pakistan and the United States.

Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan by Rafia Zakaria”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Shipping Policy

All shipping policies are the responsibility of each seller, including but not limited to pricing, shipping methods, shipping times, packaging, etc.

Refund Policy

In general (unless otherwise stated on the product page), has a 5-day “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” return and refund policy during which a Customer may return an item that is undamaged, unworn, unopened with tags still attached (at their own expense) to the seller. “100% Satisfaction Guaranteed” return and refund policy for any damaged or defective items as long as any claims are placed within the agreed upon 5 days of the item being received by the Customer. Green Woman Store communicates with the seller on the Customer’s behalf to answer and/or resolve any questions or issues the Customer might have. Please contact

Questions and Answers

You are not logged in