Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Case of Exploding Mangoes

Who kills General Zia?

In 1988, Zia-ul Haq, the sixth president of Pakistan from 1978 to 1988, died in a suspicious plane crash in Bahawalpur in 1988. There are many conspiracy theories around the accident. A Case of Exploding Mangoes tells a satirical version of the accident. The story is told through the narration of Ali Sighri, an under officer in Pakistani Air Force who wanted to revenge for his father's death.

Started with a story of a daily life of a cadet, the novel then continues with stories of numerous events involving different people in different places. The events that did not seemed to be connected in the beginning, slowly developed a connection that eventually leads to the final event, which is the crash of the plane carrying General Zia and a number of Pakistani military officers, and also the US ambassador to Pakistan at the time.

When a friend told me about this novel, I suddenly think of my childhood, back in the eighties. I was still a second grader, hearing the name of Zia ul Ha q from my parents' conversations.

I don't really understand how but I remember that back then, I had the impression that he's not a good man. I think it must be something in my parents' conversation. So I think it must be interesting to read the book now that I'm all grown up and have my own point of view of the world. 

I enjoyed this book very much.

This book is a trip down to the memory lane. Aside from thinking about the days when I was sitting with my parents and absentmindedly listening to their conversation, this novel also makes me reminiscing of the later day, still in the memory lane, when I was in junior high and used to spent my weekends reading my Dad's novel collection which revolves around Sidney Sheldon and Frederick Forsyth.

Reading A Case of Exploding Mangoes gives me the similar feeling I get from reading Forsyth. Perhaps it's the conspiracy theory, or the military and political nuance in the book, though not as heavy as those  of Forsyth's or other books from similar genre.  The writer pictured General Zia almost comically. I even found myself laughed so hard at several points in the book, and sympathized with General Zia and his stupidity. 

A Case of Exploding Mangoes is written by Mohammed Hanif, a Pakistani writer and journalist who was graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer. 

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