The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments need a miracle. Alice Bhatti may be just what they're looking for. She's the new junior nurse, but that's the only ordinary thing about her. She's just been released from the Borstal Jail for Women and Children. But more to the point, she's the daughter of a part-time healer in the French Colony, Karachi's infamous Christian slum, and it seems she has, unhappily, inherited his part-time gift.
With a bit of begrudging but inspired improvisation, Alice begins to bring succor to the patients lining the hospital's corridors and camped outside its gates. But all is not miraculous. Alice is a Christian in an Islamic world, ensnared in the red tape of hospital bureaucracy, trapped by the caste system, torn between her duty to her patients, her father and her husband - who is a former bodybuilding champion, now an apprentice to the nefarious "Gentleman's Squad" of the Karachi police, and about to drag Alice into a situation so dangerous that perhaps not even a miracle will be able to save them. But, of course, Alice Bhatti is no ordinary young woman...
At once a high comedy of errors and a searing illumination of the seemingly unchangeable role of women in Pakistan's lower-caste society, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a resounding confirmation of Mohammed Hanif's gifts of storytelling and of razor-sharp social satire.
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"Relentlessly readable. ...A comedy for those who think, a tragedy for those who feel. ...Hanif does Karachi better than Rushdie does Bombay... Perhaps Pakistan's brightest English-language voice." - The Guardian (UK)
"Rambunctious, vulgar, funny, and moving, Alice Bhatti wields enormous emotional punch. ...Right now the world could do with more books that portray Pakistanis that way." - Time
"In this bold, uncompromising novel, Hanif draws a compassionate and despairing portrait of a nation in bedlam." - Financial Times
"A novel of hope in a dark world, relevant to us all." - Library Journal
"Laced with humor, often ribald and iconoclastic, this is an insightful tale of pain and love, a story of a quest for humanity and grace in a desperate, chaotic society." - Kirkus Reviews
"In this amusing novel, Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) renders the intricacies and limitations of Pakistan's lowest rungs with humor and candor, allowing as little pity for his characters as they allow themselves." - Publishers Weekly
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Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan. After leaving the Pakistan Air Force Academy to pursue a career in journalism, he worked for Newsline, India Today, and The Washington Post. He has written plays for the stage and screen, including a critically acclaimed BBC drama and the feature film The Long Night (2002), Pakistan's first digital feature film. Hanif is a graduate of the University of East Anglia's creative writing programme. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was published in 2008. It was longlisted for the 2008 Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Book Award and the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize in the Best First Book category. He is currently head of the BBC's Urdu Service and lives in London.
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