When Daru loses his job as a banker in Lahore, he begins a long fall from grace that cascades the length of this lively and inventive tale. Too clever for his own good, he descends into drug dealing, then heroin addiction. Unable to pay the electricity bill, he rapidly loses power, literally and metaphorically, in a society increasingly polarized between decadent haves and discontented have-nots. As Daru spirals downward, he is falling for beautiful, mysterious Mumtaz, the wife of his childhood friend and rival, Ozi. Privileged but restless, Mumtaz escapes the constraints of marriage and motherhood by prowling the city's depths as a journalist. Daru is drawn to her with an intensity that mimics the attraction of moths to candle flames in his darkened apartment. Desperate to reverse his fortunes, Daru takes a partner in crime, the rickshaw driver Murad, but when a heist goes awry, Daru finds himself on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed. The uncertainty of his future mirrors that of his country, which is locked in a jittery nuclear test-for-test with India, as the rich get richer and fundamentalist fervor intensifies. With its assured voice-in equal measure funny, ironic, and impassioned-highly original cast of characters, and sly satire, this debut novel is never less than riveting.
Mohsin Hamid grew up in Lahore, Pakistan. He lives in New York City....Continua
This is a good, elaborate first novel set within the Pakistani upper-class; the story revolves around the fall of a young man and addresses issues such as the role of society in each individual's life and free will in a country where corruption rules.
The tale is developed through a series of different points of view (including the monologues of the main character, of his friends and lover and a second person narrator) and is marked by a strong symbolism; I sometimes wondered if this complicated and unusual structure, starting off with a kind of frame tale and displaying such a variety of voices and metaphors, flashbacks and time shifts, was fully justified and convincing, in particular with regards to the second-person narrator *****SPOILER**** (the judge) which I ended up considering a ruse to indirectly address the reader and prompt him/her to answer the moral question of responsibility, and to judge the “hero” (!!) guilty or not guilty *****END OF SPOILER****
I think the novel and the structure do work in the end, though it felt a bit fake and overdone to me....Continua