In front of a bigger than usual audience for a book launch in Islamabad, the celebrated writer of “A case of exploding mangoes” Mohammed Hanif launched his second book “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” on Tuesday.
Sitting alongside the legendary writer, producer and broadcaster Agha Nasir in South Asia Free Media Association (Safma), Hanif, with his head bowed, listened attentively to a commentary on his book. Then he read out excerpts from his book, a love story, introducing the main characters.
The story revolves around a girl, Alice with a troubled past. Hanif said the protagonist was inspired by a nurse who looked after his mother at a hospital about twenty years ago.
After reading a few excerpts from his book, Hanif read out a satirical piece in Urdu that captivated the audience. It was a letter addressed to the President of Pakistan written back in 2008, when Nizam-e-Adl (justice system) was introduced in Malakand.
At his satirical best in the letter, Hanif demands the same Nizam-e-Adl for the residents of Defense Housing Authority in Karachi where “objects such as the sea and the moon were provoking sexual desires among the youth, therefore action needed to be taken against such objects”.
Many who had already gone through the book, praised the author’s writing style.
“Hanif’s choice of themes and protagonists is purely political but he weaves his stories around ordinary individuals and mundane events in their lives,” said Harris Khalique, a poet and a writer. “He abhors authority and his ridiculing the authority of one individual over the other is where it all begins from. He knows how to tell a story,” he added.
Masood Alam, a freelance journalism trainer, said, “His stories are always entertaining and humorous. His stories grip you.”
Adnan Rehmat, the executive director of Intermedia, said, “It is interesting to see that Hanif did not try to replicate a successful formula by writing another political account.
Like a professional and honest writer he has written to tell an ordinary story through extra-ordinary characters.”
Before retiring for a cup of tea, Hanif signed copies of his book for the audience and answered their questions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2011.