The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack

Vivek Menezes in Hindustan Times:

Alongside cryptic epigraphs from F Scott Fitzgerald and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the only-partially-reformed slam poet HM Naqvi began his debut novel Home Boy with a couplet from that most writerly act of old-school rap, Eric B & Rakim.

“This is how it should be done/ This style is identical to none” applied impeccably to that 2010 best-seller with its vivid, cascading prose recalling exactly what it felt like to be desi in the New York City environs before, during and immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that turned our times topsy-turvy. Naqvi deservedly won the inaugural DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for it. But those lines from I Know You Got Soul remain perfectly apt for the 44-year-old author’s hugely enjoyable follow-up The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack. Part-farce, part-lament, at turns scholarly and satirical, nothing quite like this novel has emerged from the subcontinent since Salman Rushdie set about demolishing the colonialist façade of Indo-Anglian writing nearly 40 years ago.

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