Hanif on Zardari

Posted by sepoy on September 19, 2008 · 2 mins read

From The National, UAE, Exiles' Return - a superb piece by Muhammad Hanif, author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes.

In Karachi, you can only hear the distant thunder of the war on terror: the new Taliban bombing our brothers in faith, and the retaliations of America's Taliban-hunting-toys, bombing more of our brothers in faith. There are frequent warnings that the Taliban are headed toward Karachi; absurdly so, since they are more than a 1000 miles away. But the preachers are already here: the ones wagging their fingers on TV always tend to precede the ones waving their guns, smashing those TVs and bombing poor barbers.

I do worry about the preachers.

A large part of Pakistan is enthralled by this new generation of evangelists. They are there on prime time TV, they thunder on FM radios between adverts for Pepsi and hair removing cream. In the past few years they have established fancy websites with embedded videos; today the mobile phone companies offer their sermons for download right to your telephone. They come suited, they come dressed like characters out of the Thousand and One Nights, they are men and they are women. Some of them even dress like bankers and talk like property agents offering bargain deals in heaven.

I grew up during the time of General Zia, the first evangelist to occupy the Presidency in Pakistan. But even he had the good sense to keep the beards away from prime time television. But the ruthless media barons of today have no such qualms. They have turned religion into a major money-spinner. Pakistan's economy remains in its endless downwards spiral, but it certainly seems there is a lot of money still to be made in televised preaching.

Mohammed Hanif's first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was on the longlist for this year's Man Booker prize and is longlisted for the Guardian First Book award. [HT, JS]


Exiles’ return « The World Has Stopped Spinning. | September 19, 2008

[...] First blogged at Chapati Mystery [...]

desiknitter | September 20, 2008

Have you read the book? Any good? I am generally deeply suspicious of anything with the words mangoes or spices in the title. Plus this book is widely available at airport bookstores. All bad signs. ;)

sepoy | September 20, 2008

I read some, off and on, on plane trips - but couldn't get into it and finish it The title does break cardinal rules - No Mango - but who knows, maybe it is related to plot or something. He is a good writer, though. One of his columns on Musharraf's language in the Nov. 5th address remains a personal favorite.

Long Time Chapati Lover | September 22, 2008

Hanif's column on Musharraf's Nov 5 address was extremely unfair. He purposely mistranslated Musharraf's Urdu to make him sound stupid, then wrote about in for an English-speaking audience. I hadn't heard of him until then (presumably he big in Britain), but he seemed like one of those obnoxuious Pak-exile twits. Too obsessed with the Zia of his youth (it was 20 years ago, old man), too confident in his own shallow witticisms. His book, on the other hand, seems kind of an interesting attempt. Though a bit too cute. The title, as I discovered only after writing a nasty blog comment about it (sorry), is quite appropriate. The only correct use of "mango" in a desi-lit novel yet.

sepoy | September 22, 2008

Hmm. If I remember off-hand, the piece actually originated on BBC Urdu - written in Urdu - and was later translated for that angrezi audience. At least, that is the sequence with which I remember encountering it. Will have to google to be certain.

Long Time Chapati Lover | September 22, 2008

(Spam filter ate last comment) Her is the Hanif artilce I disliked http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/hanif11092007.html Compare to the ICGA translation you did (no link -- sorry) I think Hanif was unfair.

نعمان کی ڈائری - وطن بدر کی واپسی | September 24, 2008

[...] آپ چپاتی مسٹری پڑھتے ہیں تو غالبا آپ یہ مضمون پہلے ہی پڑھ چکے ہیں۔ [...]