Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Moth Smoke” as Want to Read:
Moth Smoke
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Moth Smoke

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,431 ratings  ·  773 reviews
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 riva ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 3rd 2001 by Picador (first published 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Moth Smoke, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,431 ratings  ·  773 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Moth Smoke
Jim Fonseca
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2000
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 90 ...more
Samra Yusuf
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: asian
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 ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: pakistan
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 fu
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
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 pos
Zarish Fatima
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
Anusha Jayaram
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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 wh ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 char ...more
Anum S.
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 stupid!’ 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
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Elsa Qazi
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 wealt
Aug 05, 2016 rated it liked it
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 - - but the experimental chapters just don't work for ...more
Aasem Bakhshi
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Rural Soul
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 clea
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.

Priyanka Vavilikolanu
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
Shishir Chaudhary
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
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 an
Osamah Shahid
Dec 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Either I am too naive to understand this book or the book was just purposeless.
And yes writer is obsessed with sweat.
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Alessandra Trindle
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Yvonne (It's All About Books)
Finished reading: August 5th 2013
Rating 3,5qqq

“Many boys, probably most boys, have a first love before they fall in love with a woman. It begins the moment two boys realize they'd die for one another, that each cares more for the other than he does for himself, and it lasts usually until a second love comes on the scene, because most hearts aren't big enough to love more than one person like that.”

(view spoiler)
Nov 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in south asian literature and contemporary culture
In Moth Smoke, Mohsin Hamid crafts a complex story and leaves you to judge the characters, their insecurities, their arrogance, and their crimes. He has written a candid and uncomfortably honest account of contemporary Pakistan.
Dara has lost his job, and all desire to pull out from the economic slump that leaves him in. He is resigned to let his insecurities take him over. Reuniting with his childhood pal Ozi and Ozi's beautiful wife Mumtaz, bring out all the hitherto buried uncertainties. Dara'
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010, bookcrossing
I read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and liked it, so I figured I might like Hamid's first book too.

But not anywhere near as much. From very early in the book I don't like Darashikoh, the protagonist. Intelligent? Arrogant, and definitelly not intelligent in action. Self-destructive. He loses a job his rich friend 'Ozi' has fixed him, and goes slowly downhill from there. There are a lot of times I feel like smacking him: no money for food but money for drugs; no money for paying his slave servan
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes
  • Kartography
  • My Feudal Lord
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Salt and Saffron
  • Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
  • Blasphemy
  • The Crow Eaters
  • Cracking India
  • The Wandering Falcon
  • How It Happened
  • Pakistan: A Personal History
  • Dozakhnama
  • Pakistan: A Hard Country
  • Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding
  • The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
  • An American Brat
  • Raja Gidh / راجه گدھ
See similar books…
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 thir

Related Articles

His Favorite Rags-to-Riches Stories: Fortunes fluctuate in his new novel, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, and on this author's top list for...
13 likes · 4 comments
“When the uncertain future becomes the past, the past in turn becomes uncertain.” 47 likes
“I commit her to memory. When I'm alone, I feel a strange yearning, the hunger of a man fasting not because he believes but because he's ashamed. Not the cleansing hunger of the devout, but the feverish hunger of the hypocrite. I let her go every evening only because there's nothing I can do to stop her.” 45 likes
More quotes…