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Moth Smoke: A Novel Paperback – February 3, 2001
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|Paperback, February 3, 2001||
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Desperate to reverse his fortunes, Daru embarks on a career in crime, taking as his partner Murad Badshah, the notorious rickshaw driver, populist, and pirate. When a long-planned heist goes awry, Daru finds himself on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed. The uncertainty of his fate mirrors that of Pakistan itself, hyped on the prospect of becoming a nuclear player even as corruption drains its political will.
Fast-paced and unexpected, Moth Smoke portrays a contemporary Pakistan as far more vivid and disturbing than the exoticized images of South Asia familiar to most of the West. This debut novel establishes Mohsin Hamid as a writer of substance and imagination.
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The novel is experimental in structure with some chapters following the narrative in a straightforward manner and others written as interviews with minor characters. Though messy at times, the structure does give some interesting insight into how the different classes function and live in modern Pakistan.
While the book starts, centered in the courtroom where he is accused of murdering a child, it quickly shifts to the story as it needs to be told by the main character and eventually his former best friend, his once lover (who is also his best friend's wife) and brief appearances from servants to pugnacious rickshaw drivers.
Though we learn a great deal about Daru's life, from being fired from his job and living without electricity in the middle of the hot Pakistani summer what is more important is the relationships he has and the different perspectives that all of the characters have on how his life and the story unfolds. I found this enchanting and very well pulled off, it gives the reader a glimpse into other minds and a chance to see through other eyes throughout the book.
This isn't a novel that alienates those who are unfamiliar with the culture of Pakistan, it does a very good job of illustrating the different nuances and differences of life and the author makes several acerbic but accurate observations on his culture. If anything, Moth Smoke is about the plight of the common man in a country struggling at once for footing in the modern world and global economy and the people who are trapped between classes hard to bridge for both old and new reasons.
I deeply enjoyed this book and the style of writing employed by Mohsin Hamid, he at once conveys the frustrations, elation, and tribulations of his characters. Meanwhile he manages to weave together the snapshot of a man's life with the fate of an entire nation, and for that this work should be applauded.
This book is marvelously written. Every other chapter is told in a different style, from another character's point of view (the alternating chapters are told from the protagonist's point of view). The changes in tone are extremely realistic, and showcase the author's obivious talent.
I found the first couple of chapters a little confusing, at the outset, but they became clear as the book continued -- in fact, when I finished the book, I immediately turned to and reread the beginning. I have never done this before.
I very highly recommend this book, which is, in reality, a colorful fable.
He ends up a drug addict and a criminal, and then there is a final twist to the plot, which is interesting, but not entirely convincing.