Muneeb (St Louis MO)
Highly recommended creative historical fiction
I think this novel is a brilliant addition to the era following Suleri's "Meatless Days," and Rushdie's novels.
While Hanif writes about loyalty to family, country, and friendship, he also writes about military life in post-colonial Pakistan, decades-long conspiracies, and the politics of Third World and First World interactions.
This is historical fiction, with both comedic (stereotypes, dark humor) and serious (nations and outlaws with weapons) events. It's a reminder of how the past speaks to the present, including both the familiar and the frightening characters from international history.
Maggie (Canoga Park CA)
Might as well laugh . . .
The worse the world news becomes, the more I seem to be drawn to paying attention - like driving by a wreck on the freeway. As an antidote to that helpless feeling, I've also always been drawn to the fictional therapy of books such as Catch 22 and anything by Vonnegut. Here's another one. A Case of Exploding Mangoes takes the reader to that part of the world we just can't keep from watching with shivers of dread and fascination, and allows humor to provide the glimmer of a hope that maybe its all just an absurd joke.
Betty-Anne (Miami FL)
Well worth the read
While it might help, you don’t really need to know about Pakistan’s history to really enjoy this book. Mohammed Hanif has the ability to make you care about varied characters, even the purported villains.
Ali Shigri is the main character, but the book is written from the points of view of multiple characters, which removes it from a narrow tale about revenge, into a much broader story encompassing as many concerns as there are characters.
I found that I was eager to get to each chapter to see what new layer would be revealed about the story. Additionally, Hanif’s sardonic humor actually had me laughing out loud. I am generally not fond of political novels, but if more were as well written as this, I’d probably have to change my mind.
I quite recommend this book
Miriam (Delmar NY)
A Case of Exploding Mangoes
In the final analysis, I enjoyed A Case of Exploding Mangoes. This may seem a strange way to open a book review, but I really was "iffy" about the book while I was reading it because I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be entirely a farce or historical fiction leading up to the plane crash which killed General Zia-ul-Haq. The ending certainly clarifies which one it is.
The many characters were well integrated into the novel. The juxtaposition of characters and scenes kept the book interesting, if at times, confusing. In particular, the party scene with Saudi guest, OBL was amusing.
I look forward to future novels from Mohammed Hanif.
Gwendolyn (Houston TX)
Not to be missed!
This whirlwind of a book follows Junior Officer Ali Shigri of the Pakistan Air Force as he entangles himself in the complicated world of national politics. A host of colorful characters all seem to be working against each other, seeking revenge, glory, power, and sometimes love. Throughout the mayhem, Mohammed Hanif sprinkles a generous amount of satire. Although the action unfolds far from the U.S., many of this book’s themes will resonate with U.S. readers, I think.
This is a political thriller told on a very personal level. I connected with many of the characters, and this connection is what kept me quickly turning the pages even though I don’t typically enjoy political books. Despite the complicated, interwoven plot lines and the many characters, this is not a messy, sprawling book but rather a tightly controlled performance. I had no difficulty following the action, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Highly recommended.
Gail (Dallas TX)
Timely Political Satire
I really enjoyed this book. The dark humor is laugh-out-loud funny at times even though the story is about a political assination in Pakistan.
The book is a brilliant satire filled with irony.
With the world currently focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan and the political drama playing out in that area of the world, this presents a comic picture of how things might be accomplished in an authoritarian dictatorship.
Interestingly, the most sympathetic character in the book is the assassinated dictator who is at the center of several assassination plots that come together in the final act.
This is an interesting read that will appeal to anyone interested in both political topics and literary satire.
Stephanie (Prattville AL)
Mysterious, horrifying, and even funny at times. Describes the revenge plot of a young man for his father's death. Interesting depictions of life in the Middle East. The arbitrary and inhumane punishments and unstable government make me glad to live in America. Recommend for anyone interested in other cultures.