March Issue 2007

By | Arts & Culture | Books | Published 17 years ago

You wouldn’t normally associate a comic fable with a Pakistani writer. However, Pakistani-born Mohammed Hanif (one of Newsline’s brightest reporters in the early ’90s) is out to prove sceptics wrong with, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, “an inventive comic fable” about the assassination of General Zia-ul-Haq, set in Pakistan in the ’80s.

Slated for a worldwide release in 2008, the book is already creating waves in literary circles. Dan Franklin at Jonathan Cape, which has the UK and Commonwealth rights to the book, described it as “incredibly funny, very assured, and truly unforgettable… all of us who read it here were still quoting bits to each other weeks later.”

Hanif, who currently heads the Urdu section of BBC World Service, began working on his novel, at the same time as he worked on a Master’s in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, and completed his final manuscript in two years, after reviewing it four times.

Scheduled for release in India and the US in January 2008, and August 2008 in the UK (to coincide with General Zia’s death anniversary), Exploding Mangoes is being translated in Italian, Swedish, Dutch and Spanish. Reportedly top publishing houses bid for its distribution rights. Random House has the distribution rights for India, Knopf for the US and Doubleday for Canada.

So has Hanif finally earned enough megabucks to buy a BMW?

“I can now buy more than just a BMW,” says the obviously ecstatic author, whose dream of writing a novel, since his air force days when he first developed an interest in literature, has finally come true. However, son Chanan, has his doubts. “Only writers who write Harry Potter can get really rich and famous,” he tells his father. Father’s on his way, young man!