Zahid Rafiq

Zahid Rafiq is a writer living in Srinagar, Kashmir. He was a journalist for several years before turning to writing fiction. The World With Its Mouth Open is his first book.


  • Violence runs riverlike beneath Zahid Rafiq’s gorgeously restrained sentences: these are visionary tales shot through with longing and grief. Rafiq writes with gentle humor and profound grace, showing such compassion for the ways we are, all of us, so shabbily and persistently human. An utterly exquisite debut.

    —Emily Fridlund, History of Wolves

  • The World With Its Mouth Open is a brilliant debut collection, both restrained and revelatory. In eleven meticulously crafted stories, Zahid Rafiq details the human mechanics of modern-day Kashmiri life. There is so much of the world here, rendered in small intimate moments of grief, violence, humor, and wanting, every sentence taut as a tendon. Rafiq is a writer of considerable talent, and this collection marks the beginning of what will be a marvelous literary career.

    —Omar El Akkad, author of What Strange Paradise

  • “Tenderly and exquisitely rendered, these eleven powerful stories track everyday lives, Rafiq reminds us that Kashmir is not a news item, but a home to real people, a place thrumming with life. There is instability and violence, but amidst this shopkeepers still negotiate with good humor, children play, the elderly count their final days, women contend with societal pressures, and families simply try to survive. A powerful debut by a talented writer.”

    —Sindya Bhanoo, author of Seeking Fortune Elsewhere

  • “A shopkeeper, a daydreaming boy, and an anxious expecting mother are but a few of the characters that inhabit the world of Zahid Rafiq’s moving and lyrical short stories. Rafiq’s empathic sharpness is in revealing the heart’s truth of what it is like to live in terrible times and still struggle against inhumanity. Reading each story, my heart pumps and I recognize myself.”

    —Helena María Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came With Them