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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

Moth Smoke

When Daru Shezad is fired from his banking job in Lahore, he begins a decline that plummets the length of this sharply drawn, subversive tale. Before long, he can't pay his bills, and he loses his toehold among Pakistan's cell-phone-toting elite. Daru descends into drugs and dissolution, and, for good measure, he falls in love with the wife of his childhood friend and rival, Ozi—the beautiful, restless Mumtaz.

Desperate to reverse his fortunes, Daru embarks on a career in crime, taking as his partner Murad Badshah, the notorious rickshaw driver, populist, and pirate. When a long-planned heist goes awry, Daru finds himself on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed. The uncertainty of his fate mirrors that of Pakistan itself, hyped on the prospect of becoming a nuclear player even as corruption drains its political will.

After reading the book The Reluctant Fundamentalist by this author, I loved that book so much that I wanted to read more of him.  This is his debut novel so I was expecting an interesting read.

Written in an entirely different way from The Reluctant Fundamentalist this book still reflects the authors similar underlying writing style.  It is a lot more meandering in it's story and does jump between time scales and even which person each chapter is written in and I mean by a different character as well as being in first, third person etc.  Because of the underlying style of the author I quite liked this book because I like his style but if you did not love The Reluctant Fundamentalist you would probably not like, or get, this novel.

The concept of the story is good and dramatic and the author starts the build up to where it is leading at an early stage.  I was keen to keep reading to see where he was taking us with the story.  I did begin to get a bit worried when I only had about 40 pages left to read while feeling that there was still a lot to be explained and resolved.  This is where it disappointed me.  I don't think the author gave it enough depth or explained a lot of things that, really, needed to be explained.  Now I know The Reluctant Fundamentalist (and I hate to keep harping back to this book) left a lot unexplained and that was part of the appeal of that novel, being able to decide your own ending and who was the bad guy and who was the good guy.  The same concept just did not work for this story.  To make it better the author should either have made it shorter and sharper or longer and with more explanation and resolution in the story.

A good debut novel but if you want to try this author for the first time then I would suggest you start with his book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and then read this one.  3 out of 5 from me.

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