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Farah Ali for “The River, The Town”

October 22 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Farah Ali is from Karachi, Pakistan. Her short stories have been anthologized in Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize where it has also received special mention. “People Want to Live” (McSweeney’s) is her first collection. Come listen to her talk about her upcoming book “The River, The Town” with Moderator Hannah Grieco.

Hannah Grieco is the editor of ALREADY GONE (Alan Squire Publishing, November 2023) and AND IF THAT MOCKINGBIRD DON’T SING (Alternating Current Press, 2022). She is an editor of novels and prose collections at Alan Squire Publishing, in Bethesda, Maryland. Her own writing can be found in a wide variety of publications, including the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Brevity, Fairy Tale Review, Poet Lore, and more. Find her at www.hgrieco.com.

In the rural town in Pakistan where Baadal grows up, children are named like talismans to sustain life and ward off unhappiness. At seventeen, Baadal has come to understand why his parents gave him that name, with hopes that their Big River will one day flow wide again, and their thirst will be quenched after years of drought. But in the final year of his schooling, abundance seems impossibly far away. As his parents’ marriage—full of rage, despair, and often violence—reaches a breaking point, the only comfort Baadal can afford is a budding kinship with Meena, a divorced older woman he meets on the banks of the drying river.

Meena has only just escaped her abusive husband, but her resistance to remarry soon gives way to the promise of stability and companionship that Baadal offers. Together, they leave the Town in search of greater fortunes in the City. But even strong-willed, independent Meena finds herself bowed by the strain of Badaal’s punishing work schedule, her struggling beauty parlor, and the tension with Baadal’s mother, Raheela, who fights for control of her son as she seeks to leave behind a life of disappointments and discover a freedom she’s never known.

Told in rotating perspectives spanning from 1966 to 1998, THE RIVER, THE TOWN is an intimate portrait of a family unraveling in the throes of indigence, and a tribute to the wounded love that keeps them tethered to each other. With stark and candid prose, Farah Ali traces one family’s fortunes to illuminate the relentless cycle of inequity, juxtaposing the tragic and grueling realities of poverty with the enduring struggle for compassion and humanity.


October 22
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


People’s Book
7014-A Westmoreland Ave.
Takoma Park, MD 20912 United States
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