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Moth Smoke

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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.

Fast-paced and unexpected, portrays a contemporary Pakistan as far more vivid and disturbing than the exoticized images of South Asia familiar to most of the West. This debut novel establishes Mohsin Hamid as a writer of substance and imagination.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

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About the author

Mohsin Hamid

25 books3,694 followers
Mohsin Hamid is the author of four novels, Moth Smoke , The Reluctant Fundamentalist , How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia , and Exit West , and a book of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations .

His writing has been featured on bestseller lists, adapted for the cinema, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, selected as winner or finalist of twenty awards, and translated into thirty-five languages.

Born in Lahore, he has spent about half his life there and much of the rest in London, New York, and California.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 905 reviews
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,079 reviews6,886 followers
December 13, 2019
Daru, our protagonist, is permanently unhappy; disconnected from his feelings, his friends, his life. Perhaps this is due to the death of his mother by a stray celebratory bullet when Daru was young.


Daru drifts in and out of modern elite society in Lahore, Pakistan in the late 1990's. (The book was published in 2000.) It turns out that modern elite society in Lahore is a lot like modern elite society in, let's say, Los Angeles.


The elite, many educated in American colleges, drive Hummers to and from their gated communities through the dirt and past the poverty. They party with alcohol, booze and dope while they hit on each other's spouses. Pot and ecstasy are the drugs of choice. Daru drifts and lets himself get pulled into the underworld of drug-dealing and organized crime. He seems to be an observer as he watches his own life dissipate like the puff of smoke when a moth is drawn to a candle flame.

The book's true value is in its local color of modern Pakistan and the glimpse of that society we share with the drug-dealing Daru as he drifts along the interface of the elite and the poverty-stricken.


His characters reflect the author (b. 1971) who lived in the US as a child for a few years when his father was a professor at Stanford. Hamid himself returned and graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School. Moth Smoke was regarded as innovative, using multiple voices and including mini essays on things such as the role of air-conditioning in the lives of its characters. There is good writing and the story moved along at a good pace and kept my attention.

Photos of Lahore: top from .cloudfront.net; middle from weather-pk.com/weather/images/city
Photo of the author from his web site mohsinhamid.com

Edited 12/13/19 to add photos and correct typos
Profile Image for Kinga.
476 reviews2,158 followers
October 18, 2014
Penguin has released a new edition of Mohsin Hamid’s debut novel Moth Smoke with a slightly misleading cover. At first glance it seems that there is a couple against the sunset reaching out for each other. Excuse me while I cringe. It’s only when you take a closer look that you realise they have rather jaded expressions on their faces and they are not actually reaching for each other; she is passing a joint to him. Now, this corresponds with the book better. It’s a novel about Pakistan in the 90s, about those who, thanks to corruption and connections, found themselves at the top of the food chain, and those who got left behind. It is also about sex, drugs and air-conditioning.

The first chapter shows us a glimpse of a prison cell, and in the following one I found myself in a position of the judge. The second-person narrative makes it clear that I am about to rule guilty or not in the defendant’s case. As many over-worked judges out there, I seem to not have had the time to read the dossier and hoped that the testimonies will be enough for me to pass a verdict. It’s finally with the third chapter that the Dramatis personæ are fully introduced. We meet outrageously rich Ozi and his beautiful new wife Mumtaz and his not rich and definitely wifeless best friend, whom Ozi has just reconnected with after returning to Pakistan from the US. With a dangerous triangle set up like this, trouble is almost certain to follow.

Jorge Luis Borges said once “I found that really good metaphors are always the same […] you compare time to a road, death to sleeping, life to dreaming, and those are the great metaphors in literature because they correspond to something essential.” Mohsin takes from that school of thought when he implements his ‘moth and candle’ metaphor, admittedly not the most original way of implying self-destructive behaviour. Yet, it is done brilliantly. Moths, apparently, get confused with artificial sources of light like light bulbs or candles and while trying to correct their flight trajectory end up spiralling around closer and closer to the light source eventually bringing their own downfall upon themselves.

In short, this is what the book does, it spirals around the centre that we know is there but we haven’t touched yet. Also, it is of course a metaphor for the decline of the characters, and maybe even the country.

Reading Moth Smoke is a little like watching a train wreck, if you excuse this cheap simile (I am from Borges’ school of thought as well). The smoke and smell of something burning permeate the pages and with each chapter it is harder to see who is right and who is wrong. So when the judgment moment comes you are likely to end up with a hung jury. I know I did.

(I published it originall on www.bookmunch.wordpress.com)
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
December 14, 2020
While Mohsin Hamid's later,and mediocre efforts,like Exit West have achieved a lot of acclaim,his first and best book,Moth Smoke,is often overlooked. In terms of the craft of storytelling,and sheer impact,this is his finest effort.

The protagonist is Dara Shikoh Shehzad (Daru),named after the Mughal prince,who was slain by his brother Aurangzeb,in the battle for the Mughal throne. In the book,Aurangzeb is the best friend of Daru,but like the Mughal princes,the two have a bitter falling out. Daru falls for Aurangzeb's wife,Mumtaz (the historical Mumtaz Mahal happened to be the mother of the two princes).

Daru falls from grace,loses his job,and becomes poor. He has to resort to some unsavory means to survive,as he covets his best friend's wife. Eventually,like the historical Dara Shikoh,he lands in a lot of trouble. The story is rich in drama,and conflict,quite unputdownable. The reader also gets a flavour of life in Lahore,and the trials and tribulations of the Pakistani middle class.

It doesn't feel like a first novel. It's very deft,very assured. The themes of lust,friendship,betrayal and revenge,are masterfully combined to create a powerful story,that stays in memory. Hamid's second book,The Reluctant Fundamentalist,catapulted him to fame. But for me,Moth Smoke,is even better.
Profile Image for Samra Yusuf.
60 reviews398 followers
April 14, 2017
Desires see no bounds, ecstasies have no walls, ambitions are not to confine, and we are left exhausted in heat of our own passions and unsaid illusions we so love to live in, as life goes on. We are choked in sepulcher of our own doomed state, we are asphyxiated by the hands of overpowering demons of dark desires, and we are drowned deep in wintery black waters of fervent sensations that leave us only to float…We keep burning day in and day out in the fervor and at the end, the circle ends and we crash into fire unshakably…….
Like a moth turns to smoke…….
This is what I implicit from title, and this is what Mohsen must have had in head to go with, that he miserably failed to deliver! Albeit he seems desperate to color the story in all shades of feverish passions and stolen jerky moments…..of two so-called “moths” with no fire to circle round but only a collapse-by-coincidence..
A slut of a woman, so shallow and underdeveloped character named mumtaz,is the most annoying creature of Mohsin,I practically growled at the undecided state of her mind and how she betrays the loving father of her very young children…Betrayal, is a sin unforgivable, and unforgotten!
Her extramarital affair with the best friend of her husband, shows the wantonness and infidelity of her character, and that invidious friend Daru Shezad is another failed instalment in the whole lot of melodrama. He is a typical middle-class Lahori, wanting so bad to be membered in elite, and with a trait of face-maintenance and pretense that makes them so unsolicited..
This face-maintenance is a wide spread, contagious disease in big cities, and at times you feel like walled around money-machines and cultured-beasts, talking big ,bragging broad and boasting broader….sucks !doesn’t it!
So,Daru is a drug-dealer com banker, who ends up in Jail for the murder of a boy he didn’t kill. And mumtaz is to wait till the day he gets out, there were some references from the time of first bomb experiments in Pakistan, and a lot more about elite parties and drinking…….simply crap!!
Profile Image for Komal.
266 reviews345 followers
September 11, 2014
Once we were eating mangoes, the three of us together. I said Sindhris are my favourite. Daru said, You can't juice Sindhri, only cut them. He said, Chaunsas are my favourite because they're the best for sucking. She said, I like Anwar Ratores, because they're small and you can have two or three at a time.

The fact that this book mentions mangoes and all its eligible pure breeds is a testament to its Pakistani-ness. Never abuse mangoes in front of a Pakistani; you will be clubbed. It's our fuit, it's our food, it's our legal lust--tasted by lips of the spoilt elite to the lowlifes of backstreets. There is not a born Pakistani on Earth who does not admire mangoes to a degree of infinity and there is not a more qualified bunch of mangoes that you'll find elsewhere in the world.

Personally, I prefer Chaunsas myself.

Moth Smoke was, at once, a brilliant as well as a disheartening read. It tells us the story of a man called Darashikoh (mercifully shortened to Daru) and the ultimate debilitation life leads him into. It also tells us of his love, Mumtaz, and her husband, Aurangzeb, who happens to be Daru's best friend.

Like most fictitious dramas, Moth Smoke was driven by its characters, much less the story. We begin with Daru and his position in the global community. The setting is the city of Lahore, one of the "three bigs" of Pakistan, if you will--the other two being Islamabad and the infamous port city of Karachi. I'm not going to elaborate on the story here, there's not much I can say either way. The novel is more of a monologue coming from Daru and explaining the tumult of feelings whirling inside him with every step he takes into a fate of destruction. While being quite the intrguing and smart character, he was by no means a likable one. I hated Daru from the begining till the end. However, every act that the man performed was bound to a need that the reader slowly learns over the course of the book.

Mumtaz was, perhaps, my most admired character by far. This lady is everything a lady should be and should not be, simultaneously.

I'm interested in things women do that aren't spoken about.

Mumtaz's history was disconcerting and engaging to read. Many women will not be able to sympathize with her. She'd always been a victim of self-doubt; a self-proclaimed monster at every step. Deeming herself an unworthy mother and torn between her husband and his best friend, Mumtaz's conflicted mind leads her into a desperate state of ill psychology and self-destruction that she also unknowingly bestows upon her illicit lover.
Aurangzeb, while providing much support to the background of the previously mentioned characters, plays no pivotal role in the story. He's somewhat more normalized than the rest of the cast, however.

The book often broke the fourth wall to directly address the readers, often switching views of the various major and minor characters, who give the narration a smoother flow by voicing their side of the story that's concerned with Daru. We come to know the man more via the eyes of others than his own thoughts and, grudgingly, dispute over his moral values and their drastic development.

However, Moth Smoke is subject to the more elite and the vile classes of the Pakistani society. It wavers between the two extremes and is a poor imitation of the realities in Pakistan and, perhaps, even in Lahore. I would not recommend it to someone who's looking to pry deeper into the culture since this would be a complete misrepresentation of it. This is where it fails the most in my eyes. Perhaps the alcohol, drugs and all the sex was a bit exaggerated in my opinion, unless... Lahoris, you all really aren't that sneaky of a bunch are you? Can't pull it off better than Karachi, though.

"There are two social classes in Pakistan," Professor Superb said to his unsuspecting audience, gripping the podium with both hands as he spoke. "The first group, large and sweaty, contains those referred to as the masses. The second group is much smaller, but its members exercise vastly greater control over their immediate environment and are collectively termed the elite. The distinction between members of these two groups is made on the basis of control of an important resource: air-conditioning."

Despite it all, based purely on entertainment value, it's more than good for everyone. The book also does not refrain from tackling taboo subjects in detail and banishing the odd and awkward aura of the conservative society the rest of the world often falsely classifies the literate Pakistani folks into. It's a purely adult fiction.
Flecked with bites of local vocabulary and inside jokes, the novel is often a delight for the Pakistani readers. It's strong, its environment relatable and the virtual cruise through the named streets of Lahore makes the experience much more real than it actually is.

I could shoot the cap off a bottle of Pakola at twenty paces.
[Doesn't Pakola bring back such fond memories?]

Ultimately, Moth Smoke is a love story going side-by-side with the disintegration of a once well-respected middle-class family man. While my heart just got distasteful at the end, the novel left a mark. It's also extremely well written and constantly reminded me of how much more exquisite and classy our literature can be when sat together with the contemporary, usually hemorrhage-inducing, western dramas.

Mohsin Hamid has become a star in my eyes and I can not wait to feast upon The Reluctant Fundamentalist soon.

And with a last stardrop, a last circle, I arrive. And she's there, chemical wonder in her eyes.
Profile Image for Anum Shaharyar.
95 reviews424 followers
January 23, 2021
The frustration I felt while reading Moth Smoke is the kind of frustration you feel when you’re watching a horror movie and you’re watching the idiotic side character walk towards a noise in a dark house and you know they’re about to face a gruesome death. So you’re sitting there yelling at the screen, ‘Don’t go there, you fool!’ but they’re slowly walking there anyway, not calling anyone for help, enabling you to feel both satisfied and slightly disgusted when the blood and gore starts.

That was a very long analogy for the slow, steady destruction of our main character Darashikoh in this story. And if you’re thinking that Darashikoh is a completely ridiculous name for a protagonist, you’re right, it is. The reason Hamid used it is because this book re-imagines the story of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (our hero, or rather, anti-hero) and his trial at the hands of his brother Aurangzeb (Ozi in this story). Weirdly enough, Ozi’s wife and Daro’s lover Mumtaz gets her name from the Queen Mumtaz Mahal, who was the aforementioned Daro Shikoh and Aurangzeb’s mother in Mughal times, so unless Mohsin Hamid is implying some weird mother-son sexual relationship in the late seventeenth century, I don’t know what happened there.

Be that as it may, the Mughal connection is present but fleeting (or maybe it's very very important and I need a two-hour lit class to recognize it). What dominates the narrative are two juxtaposed storylines, one set in a courtroom, where a judge (ostensibly, you, the reader) listens to the testimony of the important people in Daro’s life: the best friend Ozi, the lover Mumtaz, the drug supplier Murad Badshah. These people come as witnesses, speaking at the trial of Daro’s crime, the specifics of which are as yet hidden from us. Interspersed between this courtroom drama, told in flashbacks, is the story of Daro’s decline. After losing his job because of his disdain for an obnoxious customer, Daro, an orphan who lives alone, finds that the lifestyle he has grown accustomed to is no longer possible on a life of no salary. Having studied at a prestigious school at the benevolence of his best friend Ozi’s father, Daro can no longer use the connections Ozi can to get a job. This lack in finances is made worse by the reappearance of Ozi from abroad, with a child and wife in tow.

The wife, Mumtaz, plays a huge part in the narrative as the sexy, disenchanted wife, uncomfortable in her marriage and unable to love her child. Moonlighting as a male reporter exposing details of the Pakistani underbelly, Mumtaz shows up at Daro’s place unannounced, whisking him off to secret adventures and late night dalliances. Her dissatisfaction with life, her inability to accept her lack of love for her own child, and the facades she wears makes her one of the two in the pair of most interesting characters in this novel.

“I'm interested in things women do that aren't spoken about.”

Mumtaz’s attraction to Daro plays a huge part in the rise and fall of Daro’s fortunes, exacerbating his drug addiction whenever there is a fluctuation in the relationship. Unable to deal with the reality of his situation, Daro spends more and more money on drugs like heroin. His uncomfortable alliance with rickshaw driver and small-time criminal Murad Badshah, the second in the pair of interesting characters in this story, lead to more and more drug taking, and eventually to an actual employment as a drug dealer. Like most of the characters in Moth Smoke, Murad Badshah is a largely dislikeable character, prone to violence and eager to incite Daro into crimes, but he was my favourite because he felt so real. And say what you may about Mohsin Hamid’s writing, but you can never deny that all his characters feel three dimensional and alive, and never like they are flat cardboard cutouts. While Hamid’s delivery may get a little extravagant, his characters always help keep the narrative grounded.

And with a last stardrop, a last circle, I arrive. And she's there, chemical wonder in her eyes.

What also works out well is that Hamid is writing what he seems to know. A lot of Pakistani writers, when tackling poverty, seem to inadvertently strike a tone that’s more condescending and incomprehensible than not. It’s obvious that these are people who have never even attempted to put themselves into the shoes of people with less privilege. Hamid’s writing, on the other hand, feels as real as if he has seen these circles from the inside. His character Daro, middle class and surrounded by richer friends, comes across as unlikable but also authentic. His contempt for and envy of the rich, between constantly trying and failing to fit into the elite circles that Ozi is so casually a part of, forms the connection between these two characters - not too visible on the page - that has the greatest role in the narrative.

"People don't believe in consequences anymore."

A large part of the story is about the consequences of action, or in Daro’s case, inaction. A certain lethargy is threaded through Daro’s existence in this novel: his inability to get a job, his eventual acceptance of the stronger drugs, the slow decline into robbing boutiques. This is a counterpoint to the harsher actions of other people, like Ozi, whose powerful Pajero knocks over a young boy on a bike, in a brutal hit-and-run. And while Daro, witness to the accident, is the one who picks the boy up and takes him to the hospital, he is unable to make Ozi feel repentant for this mistakes.

“...bigger cars have the right of way.”

Actions and their consequences are a theme Hamid did well in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, one of the first books I read by him, and he does it well over here too. Another thing to appreciate about this author is that he is unapologetic in his desi-ness. I have a vivid memory of once reading a Sweet Valley title which made a reference to Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, and I didn’t get that reference. Only when years later I finally read Margaret Mitchell’s classic did I finally understand. But for that Sweet Valley title, having to explain who Scarlett was was unnecessary because that’s the kind of cultural currency it’s easier to carry as an American citizen. Just like a Pakistani knows what kind of a drink Pakola is or what owning a Suzuki says about your economic status, we all indulge in cultural currencies in our literature which roots you in places. And Mohsin Hamid does this with a sort of bold abandon, an I-don’t-care-if-you-didn’t-get-that-reference sort of arrogance that makes me love his references. Other Pakistani authors attempt at times to root their stories in Pakistani soil, but their attempts to then explain the Pakistan-ness makes the whole façade awkward and unwieldy. When you write as an American or Australian writer, you don’t attempt to explain who Scarlett O’Hara is or why pumpkins are relevant to Halloween or what Santa Claus’s relationship to Christmas is. Pakistani authors not only define eid, they also explain the religious background and the festival itself in detail. Hamid’s story, which might not refer to the religious, certainly does not condescend to explain in excruciating detail every little thing to its audience.

These little details are why I’m excited about the movie adaptation for this novel, starring Indian actor Irrfan Khan and director Asif Kapadia, him of the Oscar-winning documentary Amy (on the life of Amy Winehouse) fame. Apparently an Indian adaptation was in the works before too but couldn’t pull through because of financial constraints. What’s even more surprising is that there was also a Pakistani movie adaptation back in 2002, at a time when Pakistani movies were not the rage they are these days. But if we are going to consider possible candidates for Pakistani books being adapted for the silver screen, books by Hamid would definitely be on top of the list.


Not the best thing ever, but not bad either. If you’re just starting out with Pakistani fiction, don’t read this. If you’ve already read a few and want to increase your list, then by all means, check this out.


Review to come. It's been a while since I wrote one, so it'll probably be chunky and off-kilter. Apologies!
Profile Image for Bharath.
568 reviews432 followers
December 23, 2018
This is the story of Daru, his friend Ozi and Ozi's wife Mumtaz. After losing his job, Daru's life goes on a downward spiral - drugs & adultery. The story is not very engaging since the motivation of the characters, what they want in life and the rationale for their actions is unclear. The book does well to change the narrative among various characters providing a view for each person's thoughts. In spite of that, the thoughts seldom run deep enough.

The story would have been better with more positivity, richer episodes and a better story line. There is little reason to appreciate the rapid downward spiral of the characters lives.

On the other hand it is probably a good first book.....
Profile Image for Zarish Fatima.
141 reviews
March 20, 2015
So giving this book 3 stars is kind of unfair because technically it lies on either 5 stars or 1 star.
I hated each and every character in this books, i hated their guts, i hated the hypocrisy and i hated their attitudes, their ignorance their infatuations and mostly their selfishness. Which is something because there are not many writers who develop the characters well enough to be judges and criticized.
Every character in this book was alive, i had a mental image of them, they were real talking and bullshitting. This book picks up the most corrupt part of the society the lowest the most twisted and immature set of mentality who unfortunately have the money and resources to influence.
The book could be said to be about a man, who wants more then he has, he ungrateful for what he has, and is not ready to embrace the sharp reality of his existence instead figures a short a way out, drugs, woman he should not be with and company he can not afford. He is middle class but has had a taste of elite life style but somehow never gets over the fact that he is not one of them. He wants all that he does not have and like most thinks he is most worthy of it, just because he is smart and has a delusion that he is better person.
This is story of people who are ripping this country part because they think it is free buffet and everyone should get a share when it is being served bigger the better. Its is story of degradation and decline, of sin and survival and selfishness and sabotage. It is story of disintegrating society. values and human nature.
"the prophets perform miracles because language lacks the power to describe faith" hats off for this one
Profile Image for Anusha Jayaram.
170 reviews57 followers
August 13, 2013
It's only now, after my third reading of the book, that I'm even attempting to put down my thoughts on it. No, not because it's abstract or painful reading. But because there were so many, many things in the book that I found beautiful, poetic, tragic, so real that I could reach out and touch it; I was overwhelmed. Even now, I doubt I'd be able to do justice to how much I am in awe of Mohsin Hamid for crafting this masterpiece. But I must start somewhere, for my own record, so I remember just why I fell so in love with this book.

The scope of this book is tremendous - it ranges from intense emotions at the personal level, to the choices and consequences of an empire fragmented. It weaves these two themes together very deftly. You hardly notice it happening, but the backdrop of the social setting emerges in all its detail through the personal narrative.

Side-note: Throughout the book, I kept marvelling at the familiarity of the thought processes and cultural constructs I encountered. Which was surprising only because, I had no idea there could be so many commonalities in the Indian and Pakistani ways of life (very region specific, of course, but still).

As the back cover puts it, quite neatly, this book is the story of Daru's decline.
Darashikoh Shezad carries a lot of baggage - anguish at his mother's shocking, untimely and avoidable death, unsettling undercurrents in his superficially peaceful growing years, his resentment at the double standards in society: the gulf between the rich and the not-so-rich.
Daru loses his job at the worst possible time to do so, when the economy is crumbling and jobs are virtually impossible to come by.
His childhood friend, Aurangzeb - Ozi, to his friends - has just returned from New York with his wife and child. Ozi comes from a rich and powerful family, with a retired civil servant for a father.
Things spiral out of control, starting with Daru falling for Ozi's wife, Mumtaz. To make things more complicated, he begins to try heroin, a little bit at a time, and soon, he he’s on a one-way trip down the slippery slope..

Daru's slow but sure decline is effortlessly detailed. You see through his eyes, experience his beautiful drug-induced descriptions.
Apart from these druggy, poetic passages, the language is crisp, for the most part, but that doesn't take away from the beauty of it. Most of the narrative is in the voice of Daru. And his voice becomes quickly familiar to the reader.

Each character has a unique voice.
Murad Badshah's painstaking manner of speech has the unmistakable flavour of the lilting, polite Urdu.

Then there is Mumtaz, clear sighted and courageous. Willing to state things as they are.
I was intrigued at her emotion (or lack of it) for her child. Intrigued at the fact that Hamid had given her this facet too, one of the several reasons I love this book. It explores the ideas of maternity society thrusts upon women, unconsciously, making some (like Mumtaz) feel like social misfits when they find they do not conform.
I was fascinated by Mumtaz’s journey through the inevitable phases – initially of denial, lying to herself about how she feels – and later, accepting herself the way she is. She calls herself a monster, agonises about why she doesn’t feel the way she is supposed to, towards her son. But finally, she makes her peace with herself.
I was blown away by the way her personality was sketched, by how uncannily I was able to relate to her, empathise with her.
Although there are only two chapters in her voice, they’re very powerful - describing how her relationship with Ozi unraveled bit by bit, her struggle with motherhood and acceptance of who she is, and her relationship with Daru, and why she stayed with him past the warning signs.

Then there’s Ozi's voice, contradicting Daru's narrative which, up until then you’ve become comfortable with. Once Ozi is done narrating his version of their growing years, it’s in such stark contrast to Daru’s narration that you begin to start questioning both versions, and begin to suspect that the truth lies somewhere in between.
But you still know Daru was not lying about Ozi running the boy over. Never ever once does Ozi mention it himself, skillful manipulator that he is.

There’s a subtlety in all of this, in the multiple Rashomon-esque points of view that you’re being presented with. Nothing is overstated or blatant.
For instance, Daru’s own double standards are gently laid bare for your examination. How he resents bitterly the way his rich acquaintances treat him, while he looks down on certain others himself. This hypocrisy is evident in his mistreatment of his servant Manucci, and in his condescending attitude towards Murad.

The title, Moth Smoke, seems odd at first, but soon becomes familiar when viewed in context of the standard Shamma-Parvana references in oh-so-many songs. The moths appear again and again through the book, coloured from different perspectives, exactly like a theme song's recurring refrain.
The composition is intricate, brilliantly thought through, misdirecting the reader more than twice, packing in that added dose of suspense into an already heady mix of drugs, crime, adultery, and so much more.

**Spoiler Start**

Regarding the misdirection:

When the story begins, you don't have any idea what Daru's crime is. Slowly, you begin to think he's killed someone, or is at least being accused (wrongly or correctly) of killing a boy.

Somewhere in the middle, Daru, high on heroin, theorises that Muazzam - Mumtaz's son - is the reason for all of his misery. He even follows Muazzam's car, revolver in lap, and you feel certain this is the crime he is being accused of. Only to be surprised when he doesn't kill the child.

Then, the burglary plot unfolds. Now, you're sure Daru has killed the little boy at the boutique that he and Murad are raiding. You're convinced even after that episode concludes, that this is what has happened.

It's only towards the end, that you realise what has actually happened. That Daru has been accused of killing the boy that Ozi killed, ran over in his Pajero. And then it hits you. Ozi's revenge. His way of exacting vengeance for Daru's affair with Mumtaz, of which he'd known for some time then.

And your mind is in a whirl. You're left open-mouthed at this revelation, devastating as it is. You've only heard of poetic justice being meted out in books and movies. But this - this is the very definition of *Poetic Injustice*.

You can only shake your head in awe, for how beautifully and thoroughly your mind has been manipulated by Hamid.

You may, if you’re surprised enough, even go back to the chapter where Murad and Daru carry out their burglary. And then, while you re-read it, more carefully this time, you find that there was only a gunshot. It never connected with any person, only resulted in a shattering of glass. And then you remember Daru’s earlier practice sessions – of how he finds himself a lousy shot, even more so, if it’s a moving target.

And you wonder how you could’ve missed this while reading it through the first time.

**Spoiler End**

The names of major characters in the book are deliberately chosen, in accordance with the imagined predictions made in the prologue:
Aurangzeb, the emperor, Shuja, who is not Shuja (courageous), Murad, who does not fulfill his Murad (destiny), and Dara, the fallen prince.
All siblings. All sons of Shah Jahan. Your mind wanders back to snippets of history you've read somewhere. You remember reading about the speedy trial Aurangzeb (the original) rigged for his brother, Darashikoh, and how he got Dara condemned to death, having declared him a heretic.

The epilogue is a commentary, in the same vein as the prologue, on the present social and political state of the country (and subcontinent): “atomized, atomic states”.

To sum up, this book is right up there with my all-time-favourites. I could read it several more times and never fail to marvel at Mohsin Hamid’s genius.
Profile Image for Fatima.
7 reviews
March 15, 2013
To be precise, good book with nothing good in it, complexes, jealousies, adultery (more relevantly having an affair with husband’s best friends), alcohol, drugs and what not. I never came through such complex characters and unfortunately I found them real rather than just characters. If you know Lahore and its suburbs, you can actually relate to it very well, the existence of elite class, their immoralities, the working of drug suppliers, stories of red light areas so on and so forth. Every character justifies its wrong doings so well that I am perplexed like NO, but YES, I have seen these people.
Hamid has written what people usually don’t admit about their behaviours.He created Mumataz actually, the outstanding character, she is the women of strength and the only person with the feeling of guilt which she tried to compensate till the end,in her own way, which I think is again a mistake. Ozi turns out to be silent revenger and Daru- the ignorant, blamer and self piteous.
The second favourite animal after moth in the story is Chipkali (lizards). I laughed at how he defines it. At some point it seems like he is describing some woman :D
It is all about when PEOPLE DO NOT FEAR CONSEQUENCES ANYMORE, things begin to change in strange negative way and once you are into it, there is no ways out.
Altogether GOODREAD it is!
Profile Image for Louise.
1,631 reviews285 followers
January 13, 2013
The book begins and ends with excerpts from the story of Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal for his beautiful and beloved wife, Mumtaz. Their children, Darashukoh and Aurangzeb, became enemies. Mohsin Hamid names his characters for these historical people and shows a similar unraveling of childhood relationships.

Was it determined from the start that Dara Shukoh and his friend Aurangzeb, known as Ozi, would become rivals? As young competitors Dara was smarter and stronger, but his wealthy friend Ozi was empowered to succeed by family money and connections. Ozi was able to get a US education, became a lawyer and then help his father preserve and expand the family fortune.

Set in Pakistan as it becomes nuclear in 1998, Dara's attitude towards his bank's customers gets him fired from the low level job he got through Ozi's family's contacts. Without an MBA, a US degree, or a well connected relative, doors for legitimate employment are not available to him. He sees the entitled life of Ozi's elite friends. He allows his life to spin out of control and he becomes like a moth to a flame.

Through Dara's story, Hamid draws a portrait of the young in Lahore. He shows how corruption (in Ozi's case money laundering) trickled fortunes upward to the elite and sent the have-nots into a downward spiral. Both Ozi and Dara show emotions ranging from lack of concern to contempt for those below them on the social ladder. It is not surprising that Mumtaz, who is the only one who shows concern for right and wrong, can love neither man. The characters reveal themselves in their first person accounts, but none of the characters truly understands the other.

This is an excellent piece of literature, as is Hamid's newer novel "The Reluctant Fundamentalist". Hopefully Hamid will not keep readers waiting for 8 years for another.
15 reviews
February 4, 2009
Mohsin Hamid writes with credibility and a certain conviction that tears characters off the fabric of pakistan's social tapestry and paints instead a vivid etching in grey scales. The narrative forebodes the breakdown of the society's very weak fundamental values as would be the case in any upwardly mobile urban story.

Hamid is a subtle craftsman at work.His characters reveal the story of Daru the social outcast. Most significantly Mumtaz holds up the mirror to bring the two paralles in her life ozi and Daru who seemingly meet at a point and then move away displaying the stark contrast and the deep chasm that separtes them as a person and as a part of the society's frameowrk.

Moth Smoke balances itself on a thin and delicate question that the subcontinent is facing right now. What is the identity of the urban youth-both men and women: What are their choices and where are they heading?

Has it reached a tipping point? change will it be an evoltonary one or a dramatic fallout leading to a very tragic destiny for the sub-continent?

Profile Image for Asim Bakhshi.
Author 7 books250 followers
January 8, 2018
I actually read it as soon as the pirated version arrived on bookstores in Pakistan :). I think in 2001. Anyone who read it, waited restlessly for Mohsin's next project that came in the shape of Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Strictly speaking from the narrative and characterization perspective, it is far better than Reluctant Fundamentalist. However, latter is unsurpassable in terms of its relevance to the western reader.
Profile Image for Elsa Qazi.
138 reviews31 followers
June 2, 2017
This book was amazing!!

4.25 stars

The infamous trial of Darashikoh and Aurangzeb (sons of Shah Jehan) after the wars of succession was used as an allegory to explain the main plot of the book. What is worth noticing is that though Daru and Ozi were friends, their relationship in the beginning was that of brothers, thus the allegory consisting of two brothers. They turned against each other and Aurangzeb was the doom of his own brother.

The social and political problems of our society at the time of the nuclear tests are the main focus of the book. But I think this book still represents much of what is happening in Pakistan: Corruption, unemployment, nepotism, class differentiation, and every other problem arising from these. Need to know how is Pakistan doing these days? Read Moth Smoke.

This book was the harsh reality of the problems faced by Pakistan.

Coming to our infamous protagonist Darashikoh Shezad. It was totally unfair that he rot in jail for what Ozi did. Also true that he didn't kill the boy in the boutique. But he was in no way innocent. He slept with his best friend's wife. He wanted to kill his best-friend's son. He was a dealer of drugs. Got addicted to heroin and was a pathetic loser. If you are going to say that he was a "victim of the system" then please save your breath. He hated it when the rich folks got a little too condescending but wouldn't treat Manucci with an ounce of respect. The rich folks whom he hated so were the ones who showed Manucci some kindness. After Manucci left Daru didn't realize his mistake instead made a long list of bad remarks to the people of the lower class. All in all he was fucked up.

Ozi was a spoiled brat, who thought that he was the best and could do what he liked because his Daddy had money. So, I am not going to waste my breath on him. We Pakistani people are all too well-aware of people with the same problem.

Mumtaz was by far my favorite character. She was headstrong, independent if sometimes a little too hard to understand She seemed to be the only one with a straight head.

All in all, I loved this book very much and am going to suggest to anyone who is remotely interested in what is going on around him/her.
Profile Image for Bloodorange.
660 reviews182 followers
August 13, 2016
My response to this book was curiously all over the place, something I don't usually experience. Starting with four stars (I felt transported, really drawn into the world of the book, the amount and quality of detail of the realistic/linear part of the book are, at least at the beginning, just right for me), then cooling down to three stars (I understand Hamid's philosophy of experimental novel-writing - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/boo... - but the experimental chapters just don't work for me), to two stars. Then three stars again. I liked some aspects of the ending, in particular a little scene when the protagonist is approached by a fundamentalist, which ends as follows (bear in mind the action of the book is set in the summer of 1998):
What a nice guy. I hope he doesn't get himself killed trying to make things better for the rest of us. I guess there are all kinds of fundos these days. And they're obviously well organized if they even have a sales pitch for people like me.

I can't say I entirely disagree with their complaints, either.
On the drawbacks: the main plot is very simple - something experimental chapters probably aim to conceal. I've seen more original 'meteoric falls' among my colleagues and acquaintances, and mine is a rather sheltered life. I actually liked the book's unlikeable protagonist, but hated the feeling of being manipulated by the author (at some point, readers are made to feel revulsion for Daru, and I dare you not to). Plus all the earnestly heavy-handed symbolism - I thought this is something that is just not done anymore.

Worth reading if you're interested in the area or structural solutions involving external viewpoints/ additional information/ flashbacks and flashforwards.
Profile Image for Arvin Ahmadi.
Author 3 books533 followers
April 21, 2021
Every time I read another Mohsin Hamid book, I think there's no way he can one-up the last one. Absolutely no way. And then I'm wrong.

I LOVED Reluctant Fundamentalist, Exit West, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (oh what a title)... but Moth Smoke might just be my favorite.
Profile Image for Yamna.
356 reviews116 followers
June 8, 2016
let me think, Where do I start?? This book was extremely weird and unsettling and the fact that I was initially impressed by this author totally baffles me. I actually got really bored by the time Darashikoh loses his job. The author treated me to long, boring, tortuous explanations. Firstly, there was the whole "Professor Superb" story that I didn't get at all (or I didn't try to understand 'cause well, the book didn't grab my attention). Then, the author gave really grotesque explanations that repeatedly included disgusting words like 'hairs' and 'sweat' and let me tell you, I do not appreciate such things. Yes, you needed to be a true writer who explains every scene vividly but come on, a long paragraph dedicated to a rickshaw driver's sweat? No, thank you.
I hated every character, especially Murad and Darashikoh because they were really horrible men with no sense of what's wrong and what's ethical. Yes, I know that was the whole point; to make me hate the characters but I should at least hate them passionately or else the point is completely lost.
I hated Mumtaz the most (and surprisingly not because she cheated on her husband; her character was just too awful) and although I got why she left her son, her character lacked the zeal a "monster" is supposed to have. I hated quite a lot of this book and that is saying something 'cause I'm a Pakistani and people would tell me I SHOULD love this book out of loyalty if not anything else but I just can't. The author basically gave a long description of how many people love scotch and wine and sex in Pakistan despite our religion contradicting it. I know that was to show that Pakistan is exactly like the rest of the world but why just highlight the bad part? Why not try to shine a little light on everyone else in this country? If i were writing this book, I'd at least try to show some good part of this country for the sake of writing. Lastly, I didn't get the ending. Yes, Even if it was intended to be unclear, I don't care enough to make up my own ending.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jean.
16 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2009
I chose this book because it was written by a Pakistani. You get a different picture of the country from this book than you do from Three Cups of Tea. This story is set in Lahore and the narrator/“hero,” the son of a soldier killed in action, lives on the fringes of the wealthy (corrupt) class in Lahore—his father’s comrade, after leaving the military and entering government service (where he found opportunities to make lots of not-so-honest money) has taken Daru’s family sort of under his wing. So Daru goes to good schools but can’t afford to attend university in the U.S. He gets a decent job in the banking industry but only, as it turns out, because his benefactor arranged it. Key to the story is the relationship between Daru and the son of his father’s former comrade—as well as the son’s wife. There are drugs and crime. Characters react to Pakistan’s nuclear bomb tests. Most of the story is told from Daru’s point of view, but several chapters are “written” by Ozi (the friend), Mumtaz (the friend’s wife), Murad Badshah (a drug-dealing rickshaw driver) and a judge before whom Daru appears for a crime that I obviously can’t give details about here! I found the Ozi chapter the most compelling because it revealed the mind-set of prosperous urban Pakistanis. Islam plays absolutely no role in these people’s lives. A note at the end of the book indicates that the story is meant to be an allegory to illustrate the fragmentation of the country, and it works pretty well. The style seemed a tiny bit contrived at times but in general I found the descriptions and dialog satisfying.
Profile Image for Rural Soul.
461 reviews68 followers
March 31, 2019
This is a hell of a debut for a person who writes in a language which isn't His first. The story is clearly meant to written for locals to understand the fight for existence and survival in class oriented Asian society. I might not find it astonishing if a foreign reader can't grasp it because its a heavy dose of frustration which only can be measured if you happened to dive in this dirt hole.
It's dark story of a young man who, losing his bank job carries his life into self destruction.
I am clearly shaken to feel dilemma of our class differences, greed and corruption since our so called Great Mughals ruled on us. We seem like snails in a race who keep pushing forward to outer circles and despising ones, whom they left behind. Every person is striving to change his fate by joining better class.
9 reviews3 followers
March 4, 2009
Moth Smoke is a fictitious work by Moshin Hamid about the modern society of Lahore, one of Pakistan’s larger cities, where the socioeconomic factors have a major impact on people. The novel displays the power and privilege of the rich, and how this shadows over the poor. Hamid shows a society that corrupt and overrun by crime and drugs. The novel also depicts the beauty of friendships and love, as well as the ugliness of betrayal, addiction, adultery and lies amid economic turmoil in Pakistan.

The protagonist, Daru, at the beginning of the story is very charming, sweet, and attractive even though he is impulsive and confusing at times. Throughout the story, his character develops into something darker and unstable that resembles Pakistan society that he lives under. By showing the extreme differences of status between Daru and his spoiled rich friend, Ozi, and the upper-class people he hangs out with, Hamid cleverly points out the impossibility of changing the fortune of one’s fate according to his social status. The story is based on the murder trial that leads to Daru’s eventual execution for a crime that Ozi commits. The poor people can’t speak for themselves under Pakistani government.

The novel also reveals the reality of human nature: people can be weak, greedy, insecure, and lack will power. We often possess the desire to be someone else that we’re not, and hunger for things that we can’t afford. Daru’s character, for instance, while critical of the elite power, himself mistreats his servant to make him feel better about his miserable life.
Furthermore, through the character of Mumtaz, Ozi’s beautiful wife, Hamid exposes the choices people make in life that make them feel trapped, suffocated, and unhappy. Mumtaz refuses to be a victim of her own choices by rebelling against the regulations of Pakistani society. She smokes, drinks, and commits adultery with her husband’s best friend. Then, she becomes cruel and selfish just like the rest of the people she hangs out with. Hamid’s novel examines modern day life in a third world country and illustrates the ugly part of society that people often refuse to acknowledge.
11 reviews4 followers
March 25, 2008
Moth Smoke is a novel that perfectly captures the geist at a particular time in a particular third world country. The country is Pakistan and the geist is drug-addled, soporific, deeply asleep.

The protagonist, Daru, which means moonshine in English, although from a middle class background himself, is a product of elite schools and westernized upbringing in Pakistan: arrogant and unable to identify with Pakistanis at large, detached, alienated, apathetic and ultimately marginalized in a society feeding on a culture of misogyny, military and religious chauvinism, conformity, and run by rich, powerful feudal lords and corrupt military generals.

Small wonder then, that when he starts to break through the priviliged bubble he's lived in his whole life and the grim reality of the majority of Pakistanis begins to dawn on him, via the drunken hit and run murder of a poor wastrel by his best friend, Ozi, the spoiled rich son of his benefactor, it is too painful for him to deal with. He commits moral and spiritual suicide, losing himself in hashish, sinking into a life of drugs, debt and crime then dropping out of society completely, a society for which by the end the reader is left feeling nothing but contempt.

The book is littered with well written characters. For me, the most memorable character in the book is a hash-dealing rickshaw driver called Murad Badshah, a sort of pakistani Falstaff, he has an M.A. in English which was worthless without influence in Pakistan. So he purchased a motor rickshaw and built up a fleet. Selling hashish became a lucrative sideline. Murad Badshah's plainspoken lucidity provides for some of the most entertaining passages in the book. Both he and Daru are a victim of their circumstances and of a badly tilted game.

With this book Hamid joins the ranks of strikingly autochthonous South Asian writers like Bapsi Sidwa, Arundhati Roy, Hanif Kureishi and Salman Rushdie.

Profile Image for Roger.
Author 5 books19 followers
August 31, 2014
OK, forget the press on Pakistan, all those fundamentalists ("fundos" in the lingo of this book's narrator) and hazy threat to the West, all those people not like us who scare us so. This is sexy Pakistan, with lashings of Scotch, plentiful hash, a pastime of adultery among the rich and bored, and big flashy SUV's crashing through the potholed roads on their way to pleasure. I once saved a Pakistani banker from drowning in the Pearl Continental pool in Peshawar, and have nor forgotten the reward of a boozy party on the roof of another hotel (both since blown up.)
So don't approach this book as an enthnographic slog into foreign territory. These people, the young rich, have been over here - the US or UK - and are cosmopolitan, and partly us. They also live in constant self defence against the clinging poor. Our narrator is not quite rich enough to keep up. He's lost his bank job from disrespect for the undeserving rich, but is still welcome among the wealthy, including the house of his corrupt old friend and his old friend's delicious, transgressive wife. There is temptation unresisted, there are too many drugs, there is the turning to crime to keep up appearances, a man falling through the net of privilige without giving up the notion that easy money is his due. It's a fast, true read as we fall with our anti-hero, and root for something to work out. Does it? Mustn't say. Can say that the descent has many piquant pleasures. Moth smoke: the end of moths that fly too close to the flame - and which have not been previously whacked by the narrator's badminton racquet. Welcome to Pakistan, unofficial version. Mohsin Hamid writes its music.

Profile Image for Priyanka Vavilikolanu.
157 reviews22 followers
June 9, 2013
This is a first novel. It feels like one.

It's about a young man's self-destructive streak fuelled by a failing economy and bad choices. To me, it never rises above this one-line synopsis.

Hamid, it turns out, is all about the narrative device. His first person narrative in The Reluctant Fundamentalist elevated an ordinary plot. Here he tries constant foreshadowing of Daru's eventual doom and the occasional chapter told from the perspective of each of the side characters. These chapters turn out to be the best parts of the novel because each of these characters is more interesting than Daru. The one about Murad Badshah, the drug peddler, deserves its own graphic novel.

Then there is the Symbolism which got on my nerves. Everything is a metaphor - moths, ACs, kites. There is an entire chapter, believe it or not, devoted to how ACs stand for everything from class differences (fair enough) to marital discord and the difference between life and death. The moths from the title stand for self-destruction, of course, and at a later point, love. A kite fight - a 'kati patang' obviously stands for failure. I executed a perfectly symbolic facepalm at this point.

The ending is meant to be ambiguous. It just made no sense. Maybe reading it after a superbly ambiguous ALIAS GRACE was a bad idea.
Profile Image for Shishir Chaudhary.
203 reviews24 followers
August 15, 2017
This is exactly the kind of book I have been wanting to read for a long time - character driven, lucid narrative, gripping story. This is the exact opposite of coming-of-age genre but is equally, if not more, enchanting. Mohsin, at the pinnacle of his creativity, tells the story of the decline of Darashikoh (or, Daru) while he scoots through a lethal affair with his best friend's wife amidst weed, hash and heroine. Joining him, is obviously the equally flawed but a powerful and sexy Mumtaz (the wife of the best friend), Aurangzeb or Ozi (the best friend) and Murad (the learned, intellectual drug supplier).

Mohsin Hamid sets the story in the backdrop of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, the rivalry and associated conflicts and celebrations reflecting in the lives of characters, confused about their respective places in the Pakistani society of the time.

It is one of the best books I have read. Strongly recommended!

Profile Image for Calzean.
2,591 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2020
This is one clever story. What is obvious becomes not.
The story follows the fortunes of Daru. He is educated, smart but is an angry young man. He loses his job as a banker and lives off the little he can earn on-selling recreational drugs. He is totally frustrated that his best friend has plenty of money, a beautiful wife and child and no end of opportunities. Daru's life unravels.
The background is Pakistan. India gets the bomb. Pakistan gets the bomb. The currency and economy is in free fall and there is plenty of drugs.
The story is told by various narrators. Mainly by Daru but at times by his friend, his friend's wife, Daru's drug supplier and the judge who will decide on Daru's fate. This works well and there is a clever ending.
Profile Image for Osamah Shahid.
45 reviews37 followers
April 4, 2016
Either I am too naive to understand this book or the book was just purposeless.
And yes writer is obsessed with sweat.
Profile Image for Ṣafā.
72 reviews66 followers
May 13, 2017
An easy, enjoyable read. I sat back and relaxed, reading it slowly, savoring the beautiful, almost lyrical prose.

“A breeze tastes my sweat and I shiver, shutting my eyes and raising my arms with it, wanting to fly. I walk in circles, tracing the ripples that would radiate if the stars fell from the sky through the lake of this lawn, one by one, like a rainstorm moving slowly into the breeze, toward the tree, each splash, each circle, closer.
And with a last stardrop, a last circle, I arrive, and she’s there, chemical wonder in her eyes.”

The writing is short, precise and witty. The novel starts and ends with a reference to the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and the war of succession amongst his sons. The characters names are symbolic as they are the same as Shah Jahan; Khurram, his sons; Dara Shikoh, Shuja, Murad, Aurangzeb, wife; Mumtaz and grandson from Aurangzeb; Muazzam, and Manucci, who worked in the service of Dara Shikoh and somewhat suffer the same fate as their historical counterparts.

Set in the bustling city of Lahore, called the Heart of Pakistan, during the summer of 1998 when Pakistan was testing for Nuclear bombs, it is a more liberal than a true portrayal of the corrupt and decadent elite class of Lahore which only a few of Pakistanis will identify with. At the same time, the occasional vernacular and Pakistani slang, a bit of Pakistani culture and the names of the streets of Lahore are very reaffirming to the Pakistani reader.

Moth Smoke revolves around three people: Darashikoh "Daru" Shezad; the orphan anti-hero, Mumtaz Kashmiri; the wife of his best friend, Murad Badshah; his drug supplier, while Aurangzeb "Ozi" Shah, Daru's best friend is a secondary character.

The book is mostly a monologue coming from Daru but other chapters are a series of flashbacks narrated by different characters giving great insight into them, and one even putting you in the shoes of an overworked judge in session at court.

Daru's childhood best friend Ozi has come back from the States after many years with an attractive wife on one arm and a child in the other. Ozi is the son of a corrupt wealthy man, who was Daru's patron, a typical by-product of a politically corrupt society.

“...bigger cars have the right of way.”

Daru loses his job, and with that his self-esteem and his shaky position on the fringes of Lahore's elite society.

Mumtaz and Daru are drawn to each other from the moment they meet, both like a moth to a flame, torn between desire and the people they hold dear and feel obligated to.

It is the story of a man unable to deal with his circumstances and his social status, and whose sense of entitlement, envy, disdain and haughtiness leads him to his own inevitable destruction.

The novel is about social hierarchy, lust, depravity, drugs, unemployment, addiction, obsession and the corruption in third world countries where the rich feed on poor like vultures.

What I can definitely say about this novel is less is more. One very interesting and simple but witty part of the novel was using air conditioning as the control factor between the elites and the masses. The characters were very raw, well-thought and deftly constructed. The writing was not only arresting but thought-provoking.

The end of the novel was poetically just in my opinion but still, it leaves you hanging, unable to decide.

“When the uncertain future becomes the past, the past, in turn, becomes uncertain.”

(Originally posted on https://ibreatheinemotions.wordpress....)
Profile Image for Patryx.
428 reviews136 followers
August 19, 2021
La tematica del romanzo non è proprio originale e fornisce un'immagine del Pakistan abbastanza scontata: ricchi corrotti, poveri sfruttati e senza diritti, tantissime persone che cercano di vivere tra questi due estremi. Tutti però sono entusiasti di avere le armi atomiche e dei test nucleari fatti dal Pakistan per dimostrare la propria forza.
I personaggi non sono simpatici, forse fa eccezione un giovane domestico maltrattato, ma comunque la vicenda mi ha catturato e ho letto il libro velocemente per sapere come andava a finire.
Ho trovato interessante l'alternarsi del punto di vista del narratore: l'io narrante (il protagonista) si alterna alla descrizione delle vicende fatta da altri personaggi e questa è una delle motivazioni per cui è difficile trovare qualcuno particolarmente simpatico.
Profile Image for Alessandra Trindle.
102 reviews1 follower
April 21, 2013
Moth smoke is what happens when the moth, in love with the flame, circles ever closer until its wings catch fire and it is incinerated. The flame remains unchanged during the interaction.

This novel depicts the destructive power of finding love in the forbidden. It relates the lies we tell ourselves and others, and it details the consequences of those lies. Set in modern day Lahore, Pakistan, it is at once familiar and alien at the same time. A reader may find influences from Crime and Punishment (Rodion Raskolnikov is very similar to the main character Daru) or from The Great Gatsby (the immorality of the wealthy and how it corrupts their existence), but ultimately, the story is its own, beautifully and fatefully told.
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