THE ALIGNIST is on a mission to create an empathy-based understanding of the world.

One novel and one country at a time.


It's one thing to report from around the world. It's another to bring stories home to readers. That's what prompted reporter Beenish Ahmed to think of new ways to deliver news. 

THE ALIGNIST is not another push notification or sound bite. It's a way to ease into a genuine understanding of a place. Guided by the characters of a novel, subscribers become invested in their realities. Page by page, the "roadmap" backs up the author's imaginings with real world information to connect fact to fiction. Guided by historical anecdotes, key statistics, individual testimony, and reported material along with an assortment of photos, subscribers come away with a deeply human understanding of each country featured by THE ALIGNIST. As often as possible, there will be an opportunity to pose any remaining questions or curiosities to the novel's author and an expert on the issues s/he explores in a live Q&A. 

A premium edition allows for an even more robust exploration of a place by offering subscribers a multi-sensory experience of the place their reading about. Authentic recipes collected from top regional chefs allow subscriber to sample the dishes the characters of the novel might eat. Ethically-sourced artisanal spices, tea, and confections add to this culinary retreat. Subscribers can experience the textures of a culture through handmade crafts and original art works. Each of the items are ethically sourced, allowing subscribers to not just read about a place, but to give back to it too. 

Beenish came up with the idea after reporting on immense human tragedies — from the persecution of LGBT people in Haiti to attacks on elderly people in indigenous communities in Kenya to brutal attacks by the Taliban in Pakistan — and realizing that it was hard to make people care about so much strife, so far away. THE ALIGNIST is meant to inform you about the world we share in a focused way, one that begins with empathy and ends with a deeper understanding of the realities of place so that the next time a story from that corner of the world makes headlines, you have a reason to care.


Every box from THE ALIGNIST is a new journey. 


Subscribers have been transported from Guerrero, Mexico to Delhi, India to Aleppo, Syria, and beyond.


With our current box, subscribers unpacked the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt and learned about what followed that revolutionary moment.


Beenish Ahmed is a writer, reporter, and the founder of THE ALIGNIST.

Image by Meghan Dhaliwal.

Image by Meghan Dhaliwal.

Her articles have appeared on air and online for the nation's top outlets including NPRThe New YorkerThe Atlantic, VICE, Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, and Quartz, among others. She has received support from the International Reporting Project to report on Vodou and Evangelical Christianity in Haiti, from the International Center For Journalists to report on women's and elders' rights in Kenya, and from the United Nations Foundation to report on maternal health and infant mortality in Malawi. Beenish was selected by the Pulitzer Center on Crises Reporting to cover education in Pakistan following the attack on Malala Yousafzai in 2012. Prior to that, she was awarded the highly prestigious NPR Kroc Fellowship through which she contributed on-air content for All Things Considered and Morning Edition. 

As a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, Beenish earned an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation charted political and national identity formation among Indian students who went to England in the early 1900s to serve the British Raj, but more often became torchbearers of the Independence movement.

Beenish graduated with Highest Honors from the University of Michigan with degrees in Political Science as well as Creative Writing and Literature. She has won several awards for her creative writing including the John Kinsella and Tracey Ryan Poetry Prize, the Helen J. Daniels Prize, and four Hopwood Awards.

She is currently working on a novel. 

For more on her writing and reporting, visit



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