Prayaag Akbar in the Sunday Guardian:
There is a certain recklessness that comes attached to a life lived in poverty. At least, this is how it seems to those of us lucky enough to escape that fate. Every day we see poor people take unfathomable risks: scurrying blind across four lanes of uncaring traffic to save a few seconds; walking, in Bata chappals, through a lake of stinking, stagnant rainwater instead of around it; hanging off a train with two toes and two fingers for grip instead of waiting for the next one; cycling on the wrong side of a dark road. And all the while the rest of us, the privileged few, surround ourselves with items from a growing list, rubber gloves, safety belts, hand sanitisers, jock straps, bicycle helmets, wet wipes, air bags, construction hats. On the subcontinent – perhaps everywhere, who knows? – the trappings of safety and the badges of privilege are too often one and the same.
For much of Mohammed Hanif's frenetic new novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, it seems he is trying to convey this recklessness born of destitution.