Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Review : A Case of Exploding Mangoes

This book by Mohammed Hanif was published last year, and was a bestseller.It’s just that I got a chance to read this book recently and I must say I was very impressed with his debut novel. What works for the book is Hanif’s sharp writing. The book is satirical, witty, gripping and unputdownable till the very end.

Mohammed Hanif was born in Pakistan and graduated from Pakistan Air Force as pilot officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. Currently he heads BBC’s   Urdu Service and is based in London.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes is the run up to General Zia-Ul-Haq’s death in 1988 in an air crash. The airplane was also carrying several of his generals, and the American ambassador. The conspiracy theories abound and his death is still a mystery unexplained.

In the book Mohammed Hanif takes a satirical approach to who might have been behind the assassination of General Zia. The protagonist of the novel and narrator is Ali Shigri, a Pakistan Air Force pilot who suspects that Zia had his father killed. He's constantly working on plans for revenge, bringing in and dropping conspirators and making changes as needed.

The book also gives glimpses of what General Zia-Ul-Haq was all about. While being a dictator he was also very religiously inclined .He would consider drinking, not reading namaaz 5 times in a day a sacrilege. He was also a highly insecure person and much loathed by the people he governed. Hanif covers the people’s loathing to his style of governance brilliantly in the chapter where Zia tries to go out disguised as a common man on the advice of Nicolae Ceausescu. He wants to know first hand what people think about him!

It is true. In the 11 years after Zia executed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the dictator's superstitious paranoia became fully justified. To know him was to fear and hate him. There were many willing assassins.The book shows that Zia had a premonition of his death and in order to keep himself safe he increases security around Army House to Code Red, he cancels all public functions including the National Day Parade. The entire parade is stage managed to make him feel safe!

I would highly recommend this book! A must read.

No comments:

Post a Comment