Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

Conspiracy theories surround the 1988 plane crash that killed the president of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, as well as most of Zia's top commanders and an American ambassador. Mohammed Hanif has spun the mystery into an entertaining satire, A Case of Exploding Mangoes. It's narrated by a gay junior officer in the Pakistan army, Ali Shigri.

"There's poetry in committing a crime after you have served your sentence. I do not have much interest in poetry, but punishment before a crime does have a certain singsong quality to it."

"My punishment had started exactly two months and seventeen days before the crash, when I woke up at reveille and, without opening my eyes, reached out to pull back Obaid's blanket, a habit picked up from four years of sharing the same room with him. It was the only way to wake him up. My hand caressed an empty bed. I rubbed my eyes. the bed was freshly made, a starched white sheet tucked over a grey wool blanket, like a Hindu widow in mourning. Obaid was gone and the buggers would obviously suspect me."

Where has Shigri's lover, Obaid, gone? Who killed Shigri's father? Who will revenge his death? And what is to be done about a crow that heard the curse of an old woman and then flew across the Pakistani border illegally?

A dark and funny look at life under an unhinged dictator. Excellent!

Readalike: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz).

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