There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. A Case of Exploding Mangoes is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of: 1.Mechanical failure, 2.Human error, 3.The CIA's ...
There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. A Case of Exploding Mangoes is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of: 1.Mechanical failure, 2.Human error, 3.The CIA's impatience, 4.A blind woman's curse, 5.Generals not happy with their pension plans, 6.The mango season. Or could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri? Here are the facts: A military dictator reads the Quran every morning as if it was his daily horoscope. Under Officer Ali Shigri carries a deadly message on the tip of his sword. His friend Obaid answers all life's questions with a splash of eau de cologne and a quote from Rilke. A crow has crossed the Pakistani border illegally. As young Shigri moves from a mosque hall to his military barracks before ending up in a Mughal dungeon, there are questions that haunt him: What does it mean to betray someone and still love them? How many names does Allah really have? Who killed his father, Colonel Shigri? Who will kill his killers? And where the hell has Obaid disappeared to? Teasing, provocative, and very funny, Mohammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream.
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Before I read this book, I'd never even heard of Zia ul-Haq, the president of Pakistan who was killed in the crash of a C-130 airplane, along with the American ambassador Arnold Raphel and others. Hanif's wonderful book presents some theories (albeit some needed to be taken tongue-in-cheek) as to what may have actually caused the death of the president. They range from tapeworms to a crow; deadly gas, snake venom given to the main character by a laundry worker named Starchy, a blind woman in prison for being sexually assaulted or even mango seeds coated with fast-acting toxic gas . Hanif, a former air force officer for Pakistan, has got a winner of a book here. Some of it is actually funny, and you may find yourself laughing out loud in some parts. At the very beginning of the book we find out that the president dies in an airplane crash; the rest of the book looks back at part of his tenure in office and the people surrounding him, as well as people who see him as an enemy who not only needs ousting, but needs to be dead. Set during the time of the Soviet-Afghan conflict, there's even a visit from a shady character who goes by the initials of OBL, the head of Laden Construction Company during the course of a somewhat garish barbeque party given by the Americans for a fourth of July. A Case of Exploding Mangoes is a wonderful book and it will definitely keep you reading. The characters are true to life (even the shadier ones), the prose is amazing and the story itself is fantastic. The fact that it has a basis in fact adds another element to the reader's enjoyment. Definitely recommended, and recommended highly. Why this did not make the Booker Prize shortlist I'll never know.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-02-18 Pakistan's ongoing political turmoil adds a piquant edge to this fact-based farce spun from the mysterious 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia, the dictator who toppled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, father of recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto. Two parallel assassination plots converge in Hanif's darkly comic debut: Air Force Junior Under Officer Ali Shigri, sure that his renowned military father's alleged suicide was actually a murder, hopes to kill Zia, who he holds responsible. Meanwhile, disgruntled Zia underlings scheme to release poison gas into the ventilation system of the general's plane. Supporting characters include Bannon, a hash-smoking CIA officer posing as an American drill instructor; Obaid, Shigri's Rilke-reading, perfume-wearing barracks pal, whose friendship sometimes segues into sex; and, in a foreboding cameo, a "lanky man with a flowing beard," identified as OBL, who is among the guests at a Felliniesque party at the American ambassador's residence. The Pakistan-born author served in his nation's air force for several years, which adds daffy verisimilitude to his depiction of military foibles that recalls the satirical wallop of Catch 22, as well as some heft to the sagely absurd depiction of his homeland's history of political conspiracies and corruption. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-04-07 Craig's final Martha's Vineyard mystery (after 2007's Vineyard Stalker), completed just before his death last spring, offers all the familiar pleasures his fans have come to relish--a swift-moving plot, appealing characters and beautifully described settings. In the dead of winter, retired Boston cop J.W. Jackson and his family are surprised by a visit from an old buddy of J.W.'s, Clay Stockton. Sailor, boat-builder, pilot and adventurer, Clay charms them all, but brings trouble in his wake. When two armed strangers later show up looking for Clay, J.W. steers them to the police for information while warning Clay, now employed by a local boat builder, to watch out. Meanwhile, the discovery of a bird's nest interwoven with the red hair of a young woman missing since the previous summer may implicate a bird-watcher devoted to J.W. in a crime. Three delicious recipes round out the volume. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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