Blessed Curse, The

By (author): Sarmad Sehbai

This novel is a savage satire about men in power in an unnamed country that could be Pakistan. Fearing loss of their sexual potency, a closed circle of men in power, including the General, his advisor, and a Chief Minister, embark on fabulous journeys involving exotic erotica, magical herbs, spiritual pimps, a virgin whore, and a divine bird–all this while searching for a potent all-destructive weapon that clearly stands for their lost potency. The novel displays the cynicism of the country’s rulers in their corruption of its religion, politics, and economy. The Blessed Curse gives us a metaphor for Pakistan’s bizarre predicament in the global political arena.

The novel’s style carries the tradition of Punjabi humour, which is often dark, colourful, and brutally frank. Inspired by fabulistic Urdu storytelling (such as that of Amir Hamza), The Blessed Curse is an irreverent blend of the real and the unreal, of farce and high seriousness.


Sarmad Sehbai

Sarmad Sehbai is a playwright and director whose plays have been produced on television and in theatres throughout Pakistan. His tele-film Fankar Gali (Stand by Street, 1991) and documentary Moghuls of the Road (1999) have been variously screened in London, Moscow and Oslo. Bachon Ka Park (Children’s Park, 1989), his play on political prisoners, won the Pakistan Television Best Play Award. His dramatic adaptations of Saadat Hussan Manto, the most celebrated short story writer of Pakistan, have been televised on Pakistan Television and GEO TV. Three of his drama serials have been aired by leading channels of Pakistan (GEO TV 2007 and 2016) and Hum TV (2008). He has published two collections of plays and four collections of poetry in Urdu language. He lives in Connecticut, USA.


“Sarmad has a prophet’s arrogance, a pervert’s gaze, and a poet’s voice. The Blessed Curse says it all.” –Muhammad Hanif

“A much anticipated work by one of Pakistan’s most accomplished writers.” –Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West

“Experience Sarmad Sehbai’s engrossing novel The Blessed Curse, where toxic masculinity and the desire for power intertwine in a tale of eroticism, alliances, and downfall. This story connects a Pakistani story with a global outlook by weaving it into a dystopian backdrop with plenty of dark Punjabi humour. A genre-bending, captivating read.” –Claire Chambers, Professor of Global Literature, University of York

“Sarmad Sehbai is a literary maverick and a true outlaw . . . A master provocateur, his wildly impish sensibility and unwavering irreverence make him a modern inheritor of the great twentieth-century iconoclasts like Manto and Jean Genet.” –Bilal Tanweer, author of The Scatter Here Is Too Great

The Blessed Curse is a the first English-language novel by one of the living greats of Urdu poetry, Sarmad Sehbai, an uncompromising iconoclast, celebrant of corporeality, and champion of the native ethos and rhythms of the Punjab against the grid of Arabic, Persian, or English conventions, leaving us to wonder: what form will Sarmad’s English-language novel take, and where will it take us? In his characteristically resonant voice, Sarmad draws on the cultural richness of Punjab–its traditions of storytelling, dark and bawdy humor, and masterful uses of irony–as well as his cosmopolitan sensibilities to address our contemporary global situation in an electrifying and well-crafted tale that will leave you laughing, crying, or both–and craving for more.” –A Sean Pue, Professor of Hindi Language and South Asian Literature and Culture, Michigan State University


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240 Pages
8.75in * 5.75in *


February 12, 2024



Book Subjects:

FICTION / Satire

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