Summer Reading: New Fiction from South Asia

Mangoes Mohammed Hanif writes in English. He graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy and grew up to be a correspondent for the BBC in Karachi. He calls A Case of Exploding Mangoes an "alleged novel" about a whole range of events leading ultimately to the death of Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, his top generals and the U.S. Ambassador in a plane crash in August, 1988.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes is a biting, funny, often absurd, quick and witty read – despite its topic, almost a romp, even. You could take it to the beach.

Rooms Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Stories is altogether darker. It's a series of short stories loosely related through their connection to a wealthy Pakistani landowner named K. K. Harouni. Story after story present a modern Pakistan in which a tangibly decaying feudal order of landed gentry is overlaid by cell-phones, drug use and uncertainty. Richly, handsomely described.

Next on the list, The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam, the story of "an English doctor whose progressive, outspoken Afghani wife was murdered by the Taliban…" and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, in which "a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger." We'll let you know.

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