Malcolm Forbes in The National:
Mohammed Hanif’s critically acclaimed, Booker Prize-longlisted debut novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes managed to be both a riotous thriller and a merciless political satire. Running like a red thread through its cat’s-cradle makeup of plot arcs and narrative tangents, key exploits and attendant conspiracy theories, was one main strand concerning the mysterious plane crash that killed Pakistan’s military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.
Ten years after that brilliantly exuberant first novel – and seven years on from Hanif’s admirable but messy second, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti – comes a third, Red Birds, which again takes shape from a crashed plane.
General Zia did not walk from the wreckage of his Hercules C130, but at the start of Hanif’s new book, Major Ellie emerges unscathed from what remains of his F15 Strike Eagle. What’s more, the American pilot finds sanctuary and acquires a whole new perspective in the place he was ordered to blow up, and among the people he was instructed to kill.