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A young British lawyer confronts life, death and the law in Pakistan Winner of the Saltire Society First Book Award 2016 An Economist Book of the Year 2016 A Spectator Book of the Year 2016

Winner of the Saltire Society First Book Award 2016
An Economist Book of the Year 2016
A Spectator Book of the Year 2016

In 2011, Isabel Buchanan, a twenty-three-year-old Scottish lawyer, moved to Pakistan to work in a new legal chambers in Lahore. The chambers was run by a determined thirty-three-year-old Pakistani lawyer, Sarah Belal, who had finally found her calling in defending inmates on Pakistan’s death row.

Belal and Buchanan struck up an unlikely friendship, forged through working in a system that was instinctively hostile to newcomers – and doubly so if they were female. At Sarah’s side, and with the help of Nasar, the firm’s legendary clerk, Buchanan plunged into the strange and complex world of Pakistan’s justice system. The work was arduous, underfunded, and dangerous. But for a young Scottish lawyer like Buchanan it was an unparalleled education, offering a window onto a much-misunderstood country and culture. Filled with beautifully drawn characters, she creates a narrative brimming with ideas and bursting with humanity. It is a story of Pakistan, but it is also a universal story of the pursuit of justice in an uncertain world.

Reviews

A remarkable first book written with verve and an eye for telling detail.

The Economist, Books of the Year

[A] superbly assured debut that lifts the lid on an important but neglected subject in a way that is both intellectually and emotionally compelling.

Judges of the Saltire Society Literary Awards

I’ll be surprised if I come across a braver, more necessary debut this year.

National

A deft, alert, moving, beautifully expressed and profound reflection on culture, politics, and the individual's experience of the law. I would recommend it to anyone.

Rory Stewart

[An] utterly brilliant and captivating debut,

Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University

An important, must-read work.

Skinny

As events unfolded this year, it was reassuring to read superb non-fiction that celebrated expertise...Trials: On Death Row in Pakistan tells how Isabel Buchanan, fresh from a law degree, applied her feeling and intelligence to apprentice in a jurisdiction which, by 2014, saw a person executed every day.

Kate Womersley, Spectator

This is much more than a well-written coming-of-age memoir: it is a thoughtful reflection on the legal system of an important country in the modern geo-political world.

Roger Smith, Law Society's Gazette

Trials has much to tell us that is new… Buchanan weaves with clarity a compelling but heart-wrenching story.

Nadira Naipaul, Literary Review

Trials has much to tell us that is new… Buchanan weaves with clarity a compelling but heart-wrenching story.

Nadira Naipaul, Literary Review

Altruism, empathy and a sense of justice cannot be eradicated by anyone — this book testifies to that.

Kapil Summan, Scottish Legal

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781784700195

    August 15, 2017

    Vintage

    272 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

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    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780224102100

    August 18, 2016

    Jonathan Cape

    272 pages

    RRP $37.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473520332

    July 28, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

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