A gorgeously wackadoodle book

Carolyn See in the Washington Post:

Books0713see2After reading “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti,” I Googled Mohammed Hanif to see what kind of person would write such a gorgeously wackadoodle book. I found an essay Hanif wrote to explain why he had decided to return to Pakistan with his wife and young son from London, where he had been staying for more than a decade. The essay shows us a rather aristocratic gentleman with a bit of a let-them-eat-cake attitude about the circumstances of everyday life. Pakistan has better schools and better domestic help, and as for the electricity being turned off for 10 hours at a time, you can always buy your own generator; if the food in the fridge goes bad, go out to a restaurant. Hanif is an accomplished young man, a former air force pilot and a working journalist, and “Alice Bhatti” is his second novel, on the heels of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” which was longlisted for the Booker Prize .

It’s as though a different person entirely wrote “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.” The author of this novel is plainly a wild man, and since the radical edge of the Islamic world isn’t shy about threatening people who make fun of its religion, he must be a man of enormous courage. Even though he extolled Pakistan in that personal essay, here he doesn’t just bite the hand that feeds him — he chews it up.

More here.