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About the book
  • Published: 15 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784700195
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

Trials

On Death Row in Pakistan




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.

  • Pub date: 15 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784700195
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Isabel Buchanan

Isabel Buchanan was born in Dundee in 1987. She studied at the Universities of Glasgow and Harvard. She is currently a pupil barrister in London.


Praise for Trials

“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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