Pakistani Podcast – click to listen now or download http://www.box.net/files/0/f/26747034/1/f_523392002.
Pakistan seems to be in the news a lot. Any coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq always mentions Pakistan. The floods this summer brought the country renewed attention for a different reason – a tragic natural event. We noticed that, unlike the earthquake in Haiti which stayed in the news for months, no one was talking about the floods after the first few days.
So we did what we tend to do, we picked up some books from our local library and bookstore about the things we were wondering about – in this case Pakistan.
Lisa LC read and LOVED In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. She describes it as a series of interconnected stories about Pakistanis all tied together by a rural farm and it’s owner K. K. Harouni that just “blew her away”. Not surprising as this book was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. The format reminded her of Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and Interpreter of Maladies by Jumpha Lahiri. The writing was superb and having read the book makes her now pay closer attention to any news from Pakistan. Embarking on each chapter is truly like entering another room of wonders that offers insight into the foreign world of Pakistan. Lisa LC enjoyed thinking about the fact the author may have walked our streets in Norwich while an undergrad at nearby Dartmouth College.
J Lisa C somehow chose two extremely contrasting books. The first a political farce – A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif and the second a nonfiction account of US policy in Central Asia – Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid.
A Case of Exploding Mangoes uses the true 1988 plane crash that killed General Zia, the dictator who toppled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as a jumping off point. Hanif then creates a story riddled with real life characters such as the American ambassador to Pakistan, General Zia and even a mysterious OBL; conspiracy theories, Catch 22-like commentary about life in the military, life as a Muslim and life in Pakistan result. Anyone looking for a more comic look at life in Pakistan should try this book.
Descent into Chaos, on the other hand, is a sobering read. Well written and researched, the book takes a hard look at what is happening in Central Asia.
And of course talking about these books brought to mind other books from their past.