Currently Munching: A Case Of Exploding Mangoes (By Onion)

Notes About the Author
This is Mohammed Hanif's 1st book. He was born in Okara,Pakistan, and he graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy as a Pilot Officer.Eventually,he left his career by pursuing journalism.He is currently the BBC's Urdu special correspondent in Karachi.

Public Opinions About This Book
"Unputdownable and darkly hilarious.Mohammed Hanif is a brave,gifted writer"
Mohsin Hamid,author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

"Exuberant and satirical"

"Zesty, highly inventive...Hanif is a gifted writer...His explosive finale is brilliantly constructed"
Daily Mail

"Grimly, intelligently comic, as if written by an Asian Joseph Heller."
Daily Telegraphy

"Funny, subversive, erotic and sad...Anyone thinking of applying for the job of unhinged, religious dictator should read this first."
Mark Haddon

Personal Opinions About This Book
   1st glance at the title. What is the 1st thought that comes into your mind? I can see a crow in the midst of unpeeling the mango skin, a few jetplanes flying in the background...What is the message hidden in the bookcover? No way a crow, a ripe mango(as you can see it is yellow) can be connected to jetplanes! Let's flip open the book then. It's a tale spiraling around the death of the Pakistan dictator General Zia and several top generals in a plane crash.(he IS the president of Pakistan from 1978 to 1988)The author started the storytelling by visualizing a public view of the plane crash and revealing the role of the storyteller.

Air Force Junior Under Officer Ali Shigri was convinced that General Zia is responsible for the death of his father eventhough the military claimed that it's a suicide. The story unrolls as the disappearance of his close friend,Obaid who's suspected in ending General Zia's life by hijacking Ali Shigri's plane in order to destroy the general's residence. The attempt failed,Obaid goes AWOL,and Ali Shigri was jailed and interrogated.

“There are shocking scenes in Hanif’s novel, and the shock they deliver is greater because they occur as interludes to the comedy......Zainab, a blind woman who is to be stoned to death for adultery, even though this alleged offense occurred while she was being gang-raped......Shigri himself is arrested and incarcerated in a torture center in Lahore Fort. From his cell, he listens to the screams of other prisoners being branded with Philips irons, and communicates through a hole in the wall with a man who has been in solitary confinement for nine years.”

The author unpack the synopsis cleverly by manipulating between third-person view and self-told story.The tale leaps from character to character:

1.General Zia,"fattened, chubby-cheeked and marinating in his own paranoia." and broke into violent sobs easily at morning prayer where "The other worshipers continued with their prayers; they were used to General Zia crying during his prayers. They were never sure if it was due to the intensity of his devotion, the matters of state that occupied his mind or another tongue-lashing from the first lady." Organiser of a party of mango festival in the plane.

2.Arnold Raphel, the US Ambassador of Pakistan, host of a party in Islamabad where the western guests dress up in flowing turbans, tribal gowns and shalwar kameez suits, by way of ridiculous homage to the Afghan fighters" Among the invited guests young bearded Saudi known as "OBL",who's the employee of "Laden and Co. Construction". And the hilarious part is that the local CIA chief approached him and said" Nice meeting you,OBL.Good work, keep it up."

3.Khalid Obaid.or rather, Baby"O"Obaid. Ali Shigri best friend and in certain situation, lover. Love watching "The Gun Of Navarone" with his Poison Perfume on.

4.General Akhtar Rehman,the ambitious head of Inter-Services Intelligence,is happy to enhance the general's already heavy security.

5.Air Force Junior Under Officer Ali Shigri.Son of Col. Quli Shigri(who's the man in charge of converting the fort Ali Shigri was bailed in into a torture centre) Plan to kill General Zia with his sword dipped with snake's venom by unintentionally scarring the general during the Drill inspection.

6.The crow.

At the end of the story, eventhough Hanif concludes it with a rational explanation of Obaid disappearance and the mystery behind Zia's plane crash, he spent more time on describing the stupidity, brutality and hypocrisy of the Pakistan rulers. As dull politic as it might be, readers may find darkly-steered and yet comical sense of humor in this political satire.

Onion's rating:7.5/10.0

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