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A Case of Exploding Mangoes

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  10,769 ratings  ·  1,148 reviews
Intrigue and subterfuge combine with bad luck and good in this darkly comic debut about love, betrayal, tyranny, family, and a conspiracy trying its damnedest to happen.

Ali Shigri, Pakistan Air Force pilot and Silent Drill Commander of the Fury Squadron, is on a mission to avenge his father's suspicious death, which the government calls a suicide. Ali's target is none othe
Capa dura, 323 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Knopf (first published 2008)
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Mohammad Khalil ur Rahman The book is still in print. the other day, after finishing "Our Lady of Alice Bhatti" I visited the Book store and bought a fresh copy of "A Case of E…moreThe book is still in print. the other day, after finishing "Our Lady of Alice Bhatti" I visited the Book store and bought a fresh copy of "A Case of Exploding Mangoes". Please buy it from your local bookshop or order it online.(less)
Mahmoud Abdel-Rasoul It's the same quoted text from the Quran that is explained or 'translated' in chapter 2 (Jonah's prayer).…moreIt's the same quoted text from the Quran that is explained or 'translated' in chapter 2 (Jonah's prayer).(less)

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Tea Jovanović
Fantastic novel for those who like to read Vikas Swarup, or Mohsin Hamid, or Aravind Adiga... Novel that has that something... Interesting story, subtle humor... :)
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book like this could never have been written during the lifetime of General Zia ul Haq,Pakistan's dictator for eleven years (1977-88).What Zia would have done to the author,would not have been very pleasant.

So,the author took his time and the book appeared twenty years after Zia's death,at a time when there was unprecdented freedom of expression in the country,and anyone could say anything.

The book is full of vicious invective directed at General Zia,the ruthless strongman is presented as a ca
I am not sure what this book was all about. General Zia-ul-Haq dies in the end (which is not a spoiler, btw) and someone killed him. The story is about who killed him - I think. It is also a political satire on Pakistan's crazy political figures. It is about the army - I think. In fact, I don't really know what to think.

The book drives the narrative forward by alternating the stories of Zia-ul-Haq and a lowly army person, and then there is some flashback to some completely different and irreleva
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A good book about general Zia and his era but not an excellent one..... but it is a nice attempt given there is no attempt at fictionalizing the life of this most hated dictator of Pakistan. It is told through the story of Ali Shigri, his friend Obaid or "Baby O" and Colonel Shigri. It has glimpses of an obscure Major Kiani(I wonder if that major is General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani who knows...),General Akhtar or Brother Akhtar for Zia and Arnold Raphael then US Ambassador to Pakistan with cameo appe ...more
Asha Seth

The Pakistani Prez General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, died decades ago but I had read in an article that his death was rumored to be a USSR-US-Indian conspiracy against Pakistan's support of the jihadist group - Mujahideen.
I was curious to read this book as it seemed to shed some light on the actual nature of the General's assassination. But when I ordered Hanif's 'A Case of Exploding Mangoes', I did not know what to expect from say, mangoes, a VIP assassination, Pakistan's Muhammad Zia-ul-
Jul 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Having read a review of this book in the NYT, we promptly purchased it. Not the kind of thing we normally do but Sorayya needed to read it for professional reasons -- her own current book takes place in an adjacent time period and the same place. I will give you her impressions after I give mine.

I don't think this is a good book but it has to be read.

Its importance is that it fills in a crucial historical period in Pakistan's history and the history of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Occupa
Nilesh Jasani
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-fiction
An astonishing book at so many levels and still witty, fast-paced, beautifully-written and thought-inducing.
The first surprise is that a book of the nature can be written about actual, recently deceased politicians in South Asia. I am still surprised that the author was not banished in Pakistan or no major furore was created because of the way it has portrayed an ex-President and other powerful people of the time.
The second surprise - from an Indian angle - is how simple- and petty-minded (and
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Ah! Where do I begin to write words on a book I have come to adore with every turning of the page? It's full of those little surprises and shocks a growing child gets to see everyday; before he has the ability to distinguish them as good or bad.

Yes, there is an element of wonder when reading about the alleged activities of the bygone President and the Pakistan army itself and why there hasn't been a voice raised against it. But that it all there is to it from my side.

It was interesting to read s
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A charred page of a slim book, a hand gripping the spine, a thumb with a half-grown nail inserted firmly into the last page"

The guilty commit the crime, the innocent are punished. That's the world we live in."
A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Ana Ovejero
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The death of the dictator of Pakistan General Zia alongside all his high-ranked officers plus the US embassador has intrigued people since the day it happened. The cause for the fall of the plane is still a mystery, becoming excellent material for a writer.

This novel depicts the reasons behind those events, having as a narrator a young soldier who has a grudge with the government, which apparently is the responsible for his father's death. His best friend Obaid disappears with a fight plane and
Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse)
An unlikely revolutionary/assassin narrates a fictionalized (?), ironized and quite funny tale of Pakistan's General Zia-ul-Haq's rise to power, rule and death due to multiple causes. Wondering why there's no fatwa issued against Hanif for this one. Interesting queer twist, and little bits of social commentary poke through the broad strokes of the plot adding resonance and poignancy. Probably a better grasp of the politics would have enhanced the humour, but not necessary for overall enjoyment. ...more
"You can blame our men in uniform for anything, but you can never blame them for being imaginative"

A Case Of Exploding Mangoes is a Pakistani journalist's extremely witty fictional spin on his country's politics, army (which have, throughout its history, often been the same thing) and its de-facto head of state, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. As one may often note, good fiction is often just a tool to shed light on the truth, and this book, in many ways, does just that.

Which is not to say — e
Jun 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up because it is written by a Pakistani Journalist about Pakistan. I thought it might give me context and cultural insights. I guess it did. And for the few few chapters, I was enthralled. But in the end, I didn't like it. A few reasons. Reason one: maybe because I live here, and I work on policy issues, the book was disturbing enmeshed with reality, and I wasn't equipped to tell the two apart. How much of the story of Zia Ul Haq's plane crash was real? And how much was fictio ...more
Kara Babcock
This book has mouldered at the #1 spot on my to-read list for four years. It exited in that unhappy limbo of not being available from the library yet not being exciting enough to make me want to buy it. Since moving to England, I’ve started trying to work my way through the oldest books on my list, so I gave in and bought this cheaply. It’s hard to remember why I wanted to read it in the first place—I think I saw it at the bookstore, thought it was interesting, but tried to exercise some self-co ...more
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-novel, asia
Wow. A comic novel on the partition of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) from Pakistan in 1971, in first person narration by a gay Pakistani Air Force officer. Hard to top that. Never mind the slow start--the pace picks up, and you'll learn plenty of South Asian history besides. ...more
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No wonder dictators fear humour: it can reduce formidable people to caricatures you just can't take seriously. Anyone who could reign for long in Pakistan's turbulent political waters and double up as America's "front line ally in the fight against communism" must be a force to reckon with, but in Mohammad Hanif's fictionalized retelling of facts, General Zia-ul-Haq cuts a rather sorry figure. He comes across as a hapless dictator holed up in his house, stewing in paranoia for most of the book a ...more
A good political satire. Mohammed Hanif has torn into the corruption of the army and General Zia’s dictatorship. He has in-depth taken the world through the minutes and the depths of the state of affairs prevailing in the country at that time. This book tells the story of a Pakistani Air Force officer, Ali, who wants to avenge the death of his father. The official story is that his father committed suicide but Ali believes the official story to be a lie. He knows that his father was murdered. So ...more
Nancy Oakes
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Before I read this book, I'd never even heard of Zia ul-Haq, the president of Pakistan who was killed in the crash of a C-130 airplane, along with the American ambassador Arnold Raphel and others. Hanif's wonderful book presents some theories (albeit some needed to be taken tongue-in-cheek) as to what may have actually caused the death of the president. They range from tapeworms to a crow; deadly gas, snake venom given to the main character by a laundry worker named Starchy, a blind woman in pri ...more
Political satire.

I am an avid reader of both 'Global' and Historical fiction so this book should have been right up my street. Instead it took me weeks to read and I omly completed it because I was discussing it in a book group.
I did not enjoy it at all. It was certainly not 'very, very funny', as advertised.
I was not alone in my views either; 6 out of 8 other readers at the discussion felt the same way.
Although I hate to categorise books, we felt that this was a book that would be more appealin
Ayaz Kohli
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
'I was there.., I was there..., in the initial video clips!' the author, the narrator gloats so as to build the authenticity of his telling and we look at the back of the cover page, only to reassure ourselves, yes, it's a fiction. I think that's a great success for him, as a story teller!
Next, the narrator, combines all possible theories of Zia Ul Haq's plane crash and, like a basket of juicy mangoes, presents to you an option to chose the best one. And there's something more in the offing; yo
Enjoyed this one. You know the ending (the fictitious depiction of the real-life death of Pakistan's President General Zia) from the very beginning. The alternate chapters work well of the General and his cohorts mixed with those of the Air Force cadet Shigri who is planning to assassinate the President thereby avenging the death of his father. It's a fast paced satire of the Pakistan-US relationship at the end of the 80s. The cameo of Bill Casey the CIA Director was a highlight as was the ongoi ...more
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-fiction
A mixture of the genuine historical figures, Pakistan's General Zia through to the fictitious narrator Ali Shigri the author has managed to produce a satire that, along with some genuine laugh out loud comic moments, made this a very good read that should stand the test of time. ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book turned out be unexpected and interesting. The satire and with which Pakistan's politics and people are written was fun to read.

At the core is a mysterious death, that of Gen Zia, whose plane crashed when it was on its way to Islamabad. But was it a simple machine error or was a conspiracy behind it all. Writer Hanif makes the reader run through all sorts of theories that even includes a possible CIA hand. It's pretty much movie material.

Since all of it is set in a pre-2000 era, there
Hammad Gill
Aug 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
A remarkable piece of satirical fiction! Humourous & captivating depiction of Zia's decade-long tyrannical rule over the country. But behind these jokes exists the gloomiest chapter of Pakistan's history, when the LAND OF PURE was snatched of its soul. If such a book would have been written in Zia's lifetime, the writer's name might be on the long list of missing persons. The whole book can be summarized in just one quote:

“You want freedom and they give you chicken korma.”
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Lucky us--we have a fresh fictional voice of the Pakistani Persuasion, as it were. Mohammed Harif is one very fine writer.

In 1978 General Zia kicked Prime Minister Bhutto out of office, later executing him and "reducing" civil rights under martial law in a harrying ten-year reign until he was mysteriously killed in a plane crash in 1988. Apparently his death spawned lots of conspiracy theories, and in a sense that's Harif's fictional purpose.

His protagonist is the son of a colonel who was instru
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Books like this are important as they foster curiosity in historical and political events. I personally didn't know the extent of the involvement of Middle Eastern countries in the Cold War.

As George Santayana (writer & philosopher) said: 'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.'
Mohammed Hanif clearly understands the importance of this quote.

The narrative jumped around, but never lost me. The author has a way of hooking you, so that you can't help but follow every side character
Mah-i-kan Kurd
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
You can blame our men in uniform for anything but you can never blame them for being imaginative

God's glory. God's glory. For every monkey there is a houri

Screams that echo through your body but get stuck in your throat

What do the ISI investigate?
What they don't know

Roses are red. Violets are blue. This country is khaki

Turning my loneliness into solitue

You want freedom and they give you chicken korma

Be it the land or the rivers, it's all under our wings

Soldier just soldier on

This book was recomm
Britta Böhler
Just not really my kind of book.
Book'd Hitu
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: foreign-authors
A darkly humorous book.
The writer is from Pakistan, some statements doesn't look nice to me as an Indian and I ignored them.
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
his style is so exquisite but i found this more depressing than hilarious
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Mohammed Hanif is a Pakistani writer and journalist. He was born at Okara. He was graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He initially worked for Newsline, The Washington Post and India Today. In 1996, he moved to London to work for the BBC. Later, he became the head of the BBC's Urdu service in London.

Source: http://en.w

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“The generals who had called Zia a mullah behind his back felt ashamed at having underestimated him: not only was he a mullah, he was a mullah whose understanding of religion didn't go beyond parroting what he had heard from the next mullah. A mullah without a beard, a mullah in a four-star general's uniform, a mullah with the instincts of a corrupt tax inspector.” 32 likes
“You want freedom and they give you chicken korma.” 19 likes
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