Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mohammed Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes

There’s been plenty of positive publicity for Mohammed Hanif’s new novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes. One of the novel’s main draws appears to be a delightful satirical portrait of General Zia. (Quick aside: with a moustache as funny as his, how can a despot like him not be satirized?) Some links: New York Times review here; first chapter here; and Outlook India article here where Dalrymple heralds the emergence of new Pakistani writing - what with Mohammad Aslam, Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid among others coming up with excellent books.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes also finds mention in The Middle Stage with regard to a character called OBL. Who is OBL? This excerpt from the Nytimes review tells us:
The most darkly funny scene in “A Case of Exploding Mangoes” imagines a Fourth of July party in Islamabad in 1988, hosted by Arnold Raphel. The American 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 is a young bearded Saudi known as “OBL,” who works for “Laden and Co. Constructions.” As OBL moves through the throng, various people stop to greet him and chat. Among them is the local C.I.A. chief who, after swapping a few words, bids him farewell: “Nice meeting you, OBL. Good work, keep it up.”

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