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Our Lady of Alice Bhatti Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 29, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307958310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307958310
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Our Lady of Alice Bhatti imbues all its moments with unsparing warmth and almost unbearable pathos. —Jess Row

Review

"In this amusing novel, Hanif renders the intricacies and limitations of Pakistan's lowest rungs with humor and candor, allowing as little pity for his characters as they allow themselves." - Publishers Weekly
"Laced with humor, often ribald and iconoclastic, this is an insightful tale of pain and love, a story of a quest for humanity and grace in a desperate, chaotic society." - Kirkus Reviews
"Rambunctious, vulgar, funny and moving, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti wields enormous emotional punch..." - Time Magazine
"Hanif's storytelling is frequently impressive… touching and unusual." - Faith Brinkley, Literary Review
"Perhaps Pakistan's brightest English-language voice… This very finely put-together novel sparkles and glitters but never shows off... Hanif's novel is relentlessly readable, compulsively so as it surges towards its apocalyptic conclusion... sometimes the prose attains the heights of poetry… Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is profoundly humane, and humanist." - Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian
"The 200 pages spent in Alice Bhatti's presence are distressing, illuminating and often funny… In this bold, uncompromising novel, Hanif draws a compassionate and despairing portrait of a nation in bedlam." - Alice Albinia, Financial Times
"...one of the subcontinent's most compelling talents… Hanif finds the humanity in the most flawed of his protagonists and, in some unfathomable way, ends up affirming it." - Scotsman

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

I was moved by the characters, but not enthralled by the story.
Rachel
Mohammed Hanif has woven a story of love, intrique and spirituality around Alice Bhatti, who as I see, is a symbol of Pakistani society in todays world.
Louise Goodman
I bought this book without hesitation because I enjoyed "Mangoes" very much.
Klaus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By R. Syed on January 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
it's a shame the previous reviewer gave this book one star. there is fair bit of violence here, and sex too, which may not appeal to the exact stratum of society that especially needs to read it. while the vast majority of south asian literature tends to vacillate between depicting pakistan as a nostalgic space of diaspora or a geopolitical hotbed of fundamentalism, this novel does neither. it offers a portrait of contemporary urban pakistan that is complex, layered and entirely unsentimental. at times it is brutal, but the dark brutality rests on a kind of insight that should not be dismissed. a lot of pundits continue to ask why pakistan remains a country at crossroads sixty five years on. "our lady of alice bhatti" is a not book which specifically sets out to answer that question, but it does get at a certain kind of truth about it.

like mohsin hamid's "moth smoke," "our lady" unfolds as a modern crime noir. it's a tragedy about a woman who is punished not for what she has done but for who she is. her story emerges as an indictment against a society that remains handicapped not by it's polarization against the west as the nightly news would have us believe, but rather because of an internal class based system of misogyny that is condoned by a corrupt church-state system. the house itself is not in order, and the external pressures of the so called new great game have spun it out of control.

despite all this it would still be dismissive to categorize this novel as a timely political thriller, because i think it gets at something even deeper than the current state of affairs in pakistan. at it's heart it's a feminist novel. it's about how the bodies of women are being trampled, displaced and discarded in lieu of rational discourse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on April 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading this novel felt to me somewhat like my movie experience with "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" with that delightful, energetic Indian hotel manager--or mis-manager. Of course the novel takes place in Pakistan, not India. And Alice is certainly not like the hotel manager, but the author's narrative voice most certainly is. It is a wonderful voice.

This is a funny-sad novel written in the style of an Pakistani speaking English--by the way it is published in England's English, i.e., humour. Potential readers need to be aware that you may need to be patient getting into the syntax as well as the sytle, one in which the reader isn't always that certain what is happening when a new scene emerges, but then suddenly the reader has the ah-ha enlightenments.

The novel is set in Karachi's Christian slum, the French Colony, with Alice Bhatti, skinny from malnutrition except large in breats, is the delightful main character, "an underpaid junior nurse in an understaffed" [very, very understaffed] "welfare hospital, The Scared. The cast is wonderful including Alice's father, Joseph, who isn't really very wonderful at all--her mother died when Alice was young--but then emerges in a very unique and very surprising role at the end in the epilogue. (The reader will not easily forget the ending of this novel, an ending that gives meaning to the title.) Noor is a 17-year-old hospital worker who simultaneously is caring for his mother, dying of cancer, often the only way to swat away the pests that inhabit the unsanitary place. The not-so-skilled main doctor, Dr. Pereira, and the sardonic nurse supervising Alice, Sisster Hina Alvi. Alice, by the way, was, in the corrupted view of the administration of the nursing school where she was "trained" "its most troublesome student.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ross of pt.roberts on November 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this novel will keep you laughing, but it will also teach your more about life for women in Pakistan than you might want to know. Most interesting is hanif's show the reader how Alice adapts to the severe constrictions of her life...some of them idiosyncratic and others cultural..right to the end. i mean the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darryl R. Morris on January 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The latest novel by Mohammed Hanif, author of the Booker Prize longlisted novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes, is set in contemporary Karachi, Pakistan in the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments, a public hospital formerly established by the Catholic Church and led by a Catholic chief medical officer but staffed by Muslim doctors and nurses. Alice Bhatti is a newly hired nurse who trained at Sacred Heart, but was forced to leave due to her outspoken Christian beliefs and a trumped up conviction of attempted murder. She is single, attractive and well endowed, which makes her the source of unwanted attention from male patients and visitors to Sacred Heart. She is friends with Noor, a teenage street urchin who has managed to obtain a jack of all trades position at Sacred Heart while caring for his mother, who is dying from three cancers. Noor is also friends with Teddy Butt, a bodybuilder with a violent temper who works with but is not a member of the G Squad, a shadowy arm of the Pakistani police which captures, tortures and kills insurgents that terrorize the civilian population.

Teddy falls in love with Alice, who suddenly agrees to marry him after rejecting his initial advances. Their flawed relationship, Teddy's troubled activities with the G Squad and Alice's apparent ability to bring the dead and dying to life form the major subjects of this novel. Unfortunately, I found [Our Lady of Alice Bhatti] to be quite implausible, as its stories about medical practice and the daily workings of a large public hospital strained credulity, and its characters were dull and inscrutable. The novel consisted of a series of connected events rather than a cohesive story, and by the end I had completely lost interest in what happened to Alice, Teddy and Noor.
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