Red Birds by Mohammad Hanif hits book-stalls in Pakistan

Red birds 1The award winning writer and journalist Mohammad Hanif’s third book “Red Birds” has hit the bookstalls. He wrote this book after a span of seven years. Before that he wrote “our lady of Allice Bhatti” and “A Case of Exploding mangoes” which won different prizes including Wellcome Book Prize and Commonwealth Prize.

In its review of this book, the Guardian wrote “Like Hanif’s previous two novels, Red Birds is full of dark comedy and witty eviscerations of war and the singular way it draws out human ugliness. However, satire relies on a veneer of sincerity: the reader alone observes absurdities that the characters believe in and live by; the author doesn’t help out directly. In Red Birds, the insane internal logic that we might observe on our own is explained to us by the omniscient philosopher dog. Certainly Mutt’s voice is enjoyable, and he’d make an excellent essayist, but he is all high aphorism. “If you are cooperating with the people who destroy your houses, it can have tragic results,” he tells us, even as we’re seeing that plainly for ourselves. “The atrocities they have committed with the language,” he marvels. When he’s not living out some tragic slapstick, he says things like: “This is not how distribution of wealth works in post-war economies.” Once, he even discusses anthropomorphism, the way Ellie discusses Momo’s fake American accent.”

Likewise, The National also wrote a review and an excerpt from it reads

Red Birds thrums with rambunctious energy. Hanif’s narrators are compelling forces, their wild accounts capable of gripping, moving and entertaining the reader. Ellie’s sections display this best. One minute he is floundering in the desert or bewailing the breakdown of his marriage, the next he is relaying warped wisdom from the preposterous Cultural Sensitivity component of his survival course. “I wish I had taken that basic Arabic or Persian or modern Pashto course they were offering,” he announces, “instead of the guerrilla gardening module that I went for.”

Momo’s episodes are animated by his misplaced faith in his get-rich-quick schemes and his despair at his bickering parents. Then there are his sessions with Lady Flowerbody, the glamorous USAID consultant (or “visiting surveyor”) posted to the Camp to assess the psychological effects of war. “First they bomb us from the skies,” Momo explains, “then they work hard to cure our stress.”

On social media, a facebook page, Nazuk Iftikhar Rao, a humanitarian worker and a reader commented.

“I don’t remember the last time I felt this much urgency to wake everyone up to talk about a book. It has been a while, a long long while, since I last stayed up all night to complete a book this obsessively – I have just finished Mohammed Hanif‘s brilliant ‘Red Birds’, but it is 6 something in the morning in this time-zone, and everyone is asleep. And I want to talk about this book. It is a sad book, about grief and about the mess we create with unnecessary conflicts. It is an angry book. A book about hurt and loss.
I want to talk about Mutt, UN and WFP references, and about grief. I want to talk about those red birds. Please read it, sooner than soon. #Redbirds#MohammedHanif

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