A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES by Mohammed Hanif, Book Review
A Case of Exploding Mangoes Synopsis:
There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world’s sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan’s military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of:
1. Mechanical failure
2. Human error
3. The CIA’s impatience
4. A blind woman’s curse
5. Generals not happy with their pension plans
6. The mango season
Or could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri?
Here are the facts:
A military dictator reads the Quran every morning as if it was his daily horoscope.
Under Officer Ali Shigri carries a deadly message on the tip of his sword.
His friend Obaid answers all life’s questions with a splash of eau de cologne and a quote from Rilke.
A crow has crossed the Pakistani border illegally.
As young Shigri moves from a mosque hall to his military barracks before ending up in aMughal dungeon, there are questions that haunt him: What does it mean to betray someone and still love them? How many names does Allah really have? Who killed his father, Colonel Shigri? Who will kill his killers? And where the hell has Obaid disappeared to?
Teasing, provocative, and very funny, Mohammed Hanif’s debut novel takes one of the subcontinent’s enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar’s dream.
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Are you intrigued by this synopsis? If so, don’t think twice – get yourself a copy of Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes and dive in today.
There is so much packed into Mohammed Hanif’s debut novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes that I will not even try to explain the plot line because I would not do it justice.
Suffice to say this darkly satirical novel was a pleasure to listen to. Narrator Paul Bhattacharjee’s delivery finds just the right balance – playing up the deadpan and ironic humour to great effect while reserving a poignancy for elements intended as deeper social commentary (listen to an audio sample).
Despite the cleverness of this novel, Hanif’s storyline is surprisingly easy to follow. No previous knowledge of Pakistani history is required.
There is also a real sense of boldness about Hanif’s writing and the characters he has developed. I found myself thinking, “He won’t go there, surely…” and a minute later being so pleased when he did.
While this may not be for everyone, I found Mohammed Hanif’s A Case of Exploding Mangoes laugh out loud funny and think it is a real treat for literature enthusiasts wanting to spice up their reading.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4.5 / 5 — Overall 4.25
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Genre: Action-Adventure, Humour, Literature, Mystery
About the Author, Mohammed Hanif
Mohammed Hanif (born in Okara in 1964) is a Pakistani writer and journalist. He graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer but soon left to pursue a career in journalism. In 1996, he moved to London to work for the BBC and became the head of the BBC’s Urdu service. He now lives in Pakistan.
A Case of Exploding Mangoes was shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Book Award and Hanif shortlisted for 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in the Best First Book category as a winner from Europe and South Asia region.
Other Reviews of A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Page Turners ; President Blink-Blink ; Suite 101 ; New York Times