Before She Sleeps

Bina Shah

06 August 2020
100 pages


Fascinating angle on "emotional work"' MARGARET ATWOOD on Twitter

In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of South West Asia, gender selection, war and a virus outbreak have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels.

The government uses terror and technological surveillance to control its people, and women must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible.

Yet there are women who resist, women who live in an underground collective and refuse to be part of the system. Secretly protected by the highest echelons of power, they emerge only at night, to provide to the rich and elite of Green City a type of commodity that nobody can buy: intimacy without sex. As it turns out, not even the most influential men can shield them from discovery and the dangers of ruthless punishment.

This dystopian novel from one of Pakistan’s most talented writers is a modern-day parable. It takes the patriarchal practices of female seclusion, gender selection and control over women’s bodies, and recasts them to imagine a terrifying world of post-religious authoritarianism.