Discovering Five Dials

by Raza Rumi

‘We’d love to have more people from Pakistan writing for and reading the magazine’

It was quite soothing to come across a delightful publication entitled Five Dials — a free, beautifully produced magazine. The current issue available at includes a piece by the young novelist Ali Sethi who has written a novel at an extraordinary age of 24. The piece delves into the reaction of author once he encounters the desolation at Shah Jamal’s shrine in Lahore.Shah Jamal’s shrine has also been associated with the great Pappu Sain dhol wala.

I am publishing the small post on Five Dials in its own voice to make the description of the magazine a little more familiar and immediate than a boring review. I am grateful to Craig Taylor for helping me in getting the introduction right.

Accessibility of Five Dials: As for new technology, Five Dials is a very lean and flexible entity. We do not need to worry about paper stock and production cost. Unlike Granta, we’re able to turn around issues quickly and react to current events. (See the American election issue, which came out days before Barack took the country.) The Five Dials iPhone app is imminent and we have fans at Adobe who keep up posted on what’s coming next and when that technology comes along, we’ll be a in a good position to use it for our purposes. Most of all we’re interested in inclusivity. I don’t care if readers use the latest generation Blackberry or a souped up Commodore 64. They’re all welcome.

How is Five Dials different: When we started this project I made sure there would be no ads and no rule about publishing only Penguin authors. Our readers are intelligent; they don’t want to subscribe to a marketing magazine. Of course we can turn to a lot of amazing Hamish Hamilton authors but the current issue also has contributions from Geoff Dyer, Ellen Hinsey, Paul Davis and Lauren Elkin, none of whom are Penguin authors. We’ve published first-time writers and writers we like but can’t publish in book form at the moment. My favorite article in this category was a dispatch from a young woman who grew up in the US and Qatar and wrote about a Qatari wedding. We haven’t published a book by her but we’ve shown interest in her as a developing writer by placing her essay in Five Dials. So: everyone’s welcome. We’re particularly interested in young writers from parts of the world that demand reportage at the moment. Pakistan is a great example. We’d love to have more people from Pakistan writing for and reading the magazine.

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