Suggested Reading Time: 10 days
‘A case of exploding mangoes’ is the debut novel of author Mohammad Hanif, and if not anything else, possesses a title which would intrigue one and all. The book actually is based on the assassination of General Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator from 1978 to 1989, when he died in a plane crash. The book essentiality weaves itself in an intriguing plot to lead us the crash of this plane.
The narrative of the book is held by Junior Under Officer Ali Shigri, son a dead Col. Quli Shigri. The son in question is convince that his father was killed on the orders of General Haq, the General inturn is portrayed as one who is constantly on the edge with regards to his security and constantly feels the threat to his life. In the midst of all this are covered the spectrums of thought that dominated the Pakistan of 1980s. Of all the conspiracy theories that have been thrown up to explain the mysterious death of General Haq, the author has picked up the one where the mangoes had a role.
What I found particularly interesting in the book was the way in which the author has manages ot address multiple issues simultaneously in the book. On the one side he talks about how the case of a blind woman being raped is handled in the Pakistan of 1980s to the other side where in he explains the formation of Taliban in a subtle and non-obtrusive manner.
In general, be prepared for a sardonic/sarcastic style of writing whenever you pick up this book, for the author’s humor has clear layers of cynicism attached to it. And just a note of caution, the book does get a bit tedious towards the end. Be prepared to have your patience testes just a bit.