Lets have a mango party: A Case of Exploding Mangoes

Boom! The ending drops right at the beginning: that Zia ul-Haq will die.

Much like in the novel that is referenced, The Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif.

Set during the military rule of President Zia ul-Haq, A Case of Exploding Mangoes looks at the fictional events leading to his death and alleged assassination. For most part of the novel, the story  fluctuates between the President’s viewpoint and that of the protagonist, the wry and indifferent junior military officer, Ali Shigri, who himself is haunted by the death of his own father who was also in the military and who he believes was killed on the President’s orders.

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Through Zia ul-Haq’s viewpoint, we see the fears that plague him and the religiousness of the man who uses the Koran as almost a prophetic device to guide his everyday actions. Much like in Wilkie Collin’s novel, The Moonstone, where one of the characters uses the book, Robinson Crusoe, for seeing the future.

This is how we first see the President as well: ruminating over the different translations of a verse about Jonah; finding meaning in it and deciding to up his security level to Code Red.

On the other side, we see Ali Shigri, who views and comments on everything in a cold, calculating and sarcastic manner (even his own brief stint with prison) as if nothing effects him. He is portrayed as a tough and dedicated officer but who lands in trouble due to his missing roommate, Obaid, with whom it is suspected he was very close to. Both land up being held for hatching a plot to kill the President and through this we see the elaborate conspiracies and schemes wrought by the Intelligence Agencies and government to keep the many suspects at bay (or more precisely in prison!).

We know the the President is going to die. We know the moment we start reading the last section of the book titled, Mango Party. Yet, this foreshadowing does not dull any of our excitement since the narration is done at a suspenseful pace that keeps one on tenterhooks. We are racing towards that one final moment where not just the President explodes but so do many, juicy mangoes, along with a unlucky crow! While racing ahead, we see the many threads coming together, we see who is plotting against whom and how this will end!

So whodunnit?

Got to read the book, my friend!

Start with the first chapter here:

P.S. Read reviews of his  second novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, below:

https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/r4wrV70ARes9Q7jrX112LL/Our-Lady-of-Alice-Bhatti–Following-the-fallen-angels.html

https://tribune.com.pk/story/257182/book-review-our-lady-of-alice-bhatti-alice-in-charya-land/

 

Weight of the World!

Greek myths are omnipresent. Most kids would have heard about some ancient Greek God such as Zeus or Athena or Hercules particularly thanks to cartoons and Hollywood film franchises.

However, myths like most folk literature are oral, not always recorded, can be fluid and changed to retell stories.

This wonderful Canongate collection, the Myths series, has done exactly that: taken myths from all over the world and allowed writers to re imagine them by adding their own thought to them.

The collection has several writers presenting well known myths in their own way. They do not necessarily change the whole story but give it more insight and suffuse it with their own ideas and views.

Weight by Jeanette Winterson also makes for an interesting read since it narrates the story from Atlas’ point of view. We not only get to see Hercules in his interaction with Atlas to finish his Twelve Labours, we also get to see how Atlas thinks and feels about his own burden- to hold the weight of the world.

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It gives a poignant and philosophical insight into his thoughts. What must it feel like to hold the world? To see the universe, to feel time’s relentless push and worse, to feel time’s relentless push when one is stuck with the weight of the whole, wide world? How does one escape? Do we escape at all? Are we all carrying our own burdens?

Need more reasons to pick the book up?

In an adorable twist, Laika, the dog sent by Russia in 1957 to space, makes a guest appearance and Laika and Atlas become unlikely eternal companions.

Read more about the book:

http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/book/weight/

Take a look at the other books in this collection:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/6763.Canongate_Myths_Series

Have you read any other books from this series? Comment below what you thought about them. Or better yet, ping me about doing a guest post on them!

Happy Reading!

Reading from all the states of India!

We have all heard of reading books from all over the world. (Sidenote: Check out this 13 year old girl’s Facebook page that will motivate you to read always: https://www.facebook.com/reading197countries/)

But how many of us have read books from all parts of India?

I have definitely not read from all the states. But plan to.

So here is the challenge, before taking the big leap of reading novels from all the countries in the world, lets read books from all 29 states and 7 union territories of India!

Please share recommendations of the different books from different states that you read. They could be in any language; they could be of any genre be it children’s novel or romance or horror or political or plays or poems; they could be translations as well.

The criteria is that the authors are from a particular place or the book is set in that place.

So here is a list of the books of the different states that I have read:

Arunachal Pradesh:

  • The Black Hill by Mamang Dai.

Assam:

  • Swarnlata by Tilottoma Misra. Read my review here.

Delhi:

  • Delhi is Not Far by Ruskin Bond (It is not exactly set in Delhi but the idea of Delhi pervades the whole book!)
  • A Girl Like Me by Swati Kaushal (Set in Gurgaon. It is up to the reader to decide the question of what qualifies as a Delhi novel!)
  • Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup. Read the review here!
  • Music in Solitude by Krishna Sobti. Read my review here.

Goa:

  • Reflected in Water: Writings On Goa– edited by Jerry Pinto. download (4)

Gujarat:

  • 3 Mistakes of My Life by Chetan Bhagat.
  • First There was Woman: Folk Tales of Dungri Garasiya Bhils compiled by Marija Sres. Read my review here!

Jammu & Kashmir:

  • I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded.
  • The Country Without a Post Office by Agha Shahid Ali.download (1)

Karnataka:

  • Samskara by U.R. Ananthamurthy (Set in Durvasapura!)
  • Bara by U.R. Ananthamurthy. Catch my review here.
  • Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna (Set in Coorg!) Read my review here!
  • Boiled Beans on Toast: A Play by Girish Karnad (Set in Bangalore!)
  • Half Pants, Full Pants by Anand Suspi (Set in Shimoga!)
    Check the FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/halfpantsfullpants/
  • Keep Off the Grass by Karan Bajaj (Set in Bangalore!)

Kerala:

  • Chemmeen by Thakazhi Pillai.
  • Mango Cheeks, Metal Teeth by Aruna Nambiar.IMG_20190206_084926623_HDR.jpg
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

Maharashtra:

Madhya Pradesh

  • The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Manipur:

  • The Maharajah’s Household by Binodini. Read my review here!wp-1546268596083.jpg

Meghalaya:

  • Lunatic in my Head by Anjum Hassan (Set in Shillong!). Read my review here.
  • Boats on Land by Janice Pariat (Set in Shillong!). Read my review here!IMG_20180930_141717676_HDR.jpg

Nagaland:

  • Bitter Wormwood by Easterine Kire.
  • Laburnum for my Head by Temsula Ao (Not sure I can specifically classify this here, but oh well, we are all slaves to constructed categories!)

Rajasthan:

  • Daura by Anukriti Upadhyay

Punjab:

Tamil Nadu:

  • A Handful of Rice by Kamala Markandaya (Set in Madras!)

Telangana:

  • The Hussaini Alam House by Huma R. Kidwai (Set in Hyderabad)!IMG_20191111_104847278.jpg

Uttarakhand:

Uttar Pradesh:

West Bengal:

States that are missing: Odisha, Mizoram, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and the union territories except Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir!

Have you read any books from the above places? Comment below!

I am going to leave you with these last books that resist any categorization! These are some books and reviews of those books set in fictional towns or move across different places in India:

More Links! Links Galore!

Concluding Remarks:

As you can see I have barely covered half of the states in India! Comment about more books if you have read them or recommend others from different parts and share the post! Hopefully, we will read more books from across India! I have in mind some Goa books that are on my to-read list!

If you want to do a guest post of books you have read from different parts of India, comment in the space below!