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People Want to Live, Farah Ali’s debut collection, features stories of togetherness and reckless faith in the face of a world that’s built to break us.

Set in Pakistan, these award-winning stories follow people living on the brink of abandonment—in their personal relationships and their place in the world. A mother, coping with the sudden death of her son, uncovers long-buried secrets in his absence. An anguished girl grabs a chance for a life beyond the orphanage walls where she lives, and discovers the price of freedom. A young couple tries to keep their fraught relationship intact as a heat wave engulfs their city. A son returns to visit his aging parents while beset with memories of a troubled childhood. And two thieves find themselves in a situation more precarious by the minute, and more dangerous than their original mission.

Ali’s characters battle loneliness and, in their fight, reveal surprising vulnerabilities and an astonishing measure of hope.

Praise for People Want to Live

“There are no easy epiphanies to be found in People Want to Live. Instead, these immaculate works of short fiction highlight a shared sense of resilience that is both crisp and well-earned.”
Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness

“Captures with stunning precision and tenderness the lives of people on the brink, struggling against both wider political forces and their own human frailties.”
Chicago Review of Books

“With a cast of well-drawn characters, Ali pays careful attention to themes of mental health, loneliness, and poverty. Ali’s dexterous debut strikes hard.”
Publishers Weekly

“Each story has the emotional heft of a novel.... [In] People Want to Live, countries and ideologies may demarcate boundaries, but the heart knows none.”
Elaine Chiew, Foreword Reviews

“The stories in People Want to Live are ones of aftermath—a lost child, an ambition dashed, an irrevocable mistake. Farah Ali writes with a precise and profound understanding of the most vital dimensions of the human experience, and these stories illuminate how connection can be found in even the bleakest moments. People Want to Live is the work of a thrilling and essential new voice.”
Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

“I might say, truthfully, that these stories will stay with me, but more precisely I mean that the people in these stories will stay with me. Farah Ali masterfully creates characters desperate to change their lives, surrounded by friends, family, neighbors, business associates, and bureaucratic authorities with the power to help, hinder, or sometimes, only stand by helplessly. This is a powerful, devastating collection of characters poised at moments of possible transformation, gripped by both hope and despair.”
Caitlin Horrocks, author of Life Among the Terranauts

“People want to live but they also struggle to live, with their families, their cultures, and themselves. Conjuring an array of characters’ troubles, Farah Ali also supplies an antidote: language to capture them that is startlingly tender at times, often slyly funny, and always particular and surprising.”
Polly Rosenwaike, author of Look How Happy I’m Making You: Stories

“Farah Ali’s astonishing debut collection brings to life a place and people with the skill and emotional honesty of a master craftsman. But it is her Chekhovian political conscience—her respect for individuals caught in the push and pull of bigger forces—which makes these stories so powerful. One is left with a greater and deeper sense of humanity for reading them. A truly remarkable book.”
Brian Castleberry, author of Nine Shiny Objects

“I have never been to Karachi, Pakistan, but I will be forever grateful to Farah Ali for taking me there. In these stories, she writes about the place and its people with such sharp insight and frank tenderness that I dreaded turning the last page.”
Rachel Beanland, author of Florence Adler Swims Forever