Of Cabbages and Kings

August 16, 2008

A case of Exploding Mangoes

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , — Chinmayi @ 9:35 pm

has restored my faith in the Booker long list. It is exquisite. I have held my breath through most of this book and marvelled through its twists and turns. One word of caution though: if you have not read the book yet, avoid internet-trawling for reviews. Suspense is a big deal in this book, and the thrill of not knowing what comes next adds so much to the pleasure of reading it.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes is very far from being a simplistic thriller. It contains (what seems to my inexperienced eye) an acute and incisive picture of life in the armed forces, politics – internal and international, and a wonderful picture of the paranoia and cocooned universe of a despot. Every portion of the book including the title) has depth and meaning in its own right. There are references to real historical injustices such as the story of Safia bibi (on whom the character Blind Zainab seems to be based).

Mohammed Hanif has done what many brilliant authors tend do with their initial works. He has based the book in a world that he is familiar with, being an ex-pilot officer. But it would do him great injustice to suggest that this is the only reason that the book reads so wonderfully. He has artfully used perspectives, and clever weaved the past and future into the narrative. He makes his threads intersect sometimes, and provides bird’s-eye views from time to time so the reader doesn’t feel lost. He builds everything up carefully and skillfully, and entertains and informs marvellously along the way.


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