Review: A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

The premise: Ali Shigri, a junior trainee officer in the Pakistani army, is convinced his father Col. Quli Shigri was murdered, and that the orders were given by General Zia, the leader of the country. Bent on revenge, Ali plots a complicated, convoluted plot to assassinate General Zia. What follows is a comic, satirical look at the politics and leaders, a particular leader, of Pakistan.

The novel is told from both a first person perspective, Ali’s story, and a third person perspective, which allows us to see the man, the world, and the paranoia that is General Zia. On the whole, the novel is enjoyable, not only because of the jokes that are told at General Zia’s expense, but also because of the journey we take with Ali in his path for retribution.

I had to read the first five pages a few times to orient me – it’s a case of information overload – but once done, the rest of the novel was easy to get through. With a cast of characters that are extraordinary, to say the least, I found myself learning, laughing, agreeing, disagreeing, and ultimately thoroughly enjoying the novel. Oh, and my favorite part of the novel – the mangoes!

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