Summer read: A case of exploding mangoes


This book, by Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif, describes the life, set in 1988, of a Pakistani Air Force officer trainee who plots, with his Pakistan Air Force Academy bunkmate, to kill General Zia.  Hanif was, prior to being a writer, a graduate of this academy and an Air Force officer.  That puts the book in the genre of scenarios written by professionals.  Sometimes these can be awful, but Hanif is a good writer, which is probably why, by natural selection, it appears on my desk.

As a professional roman à clef, it carries with it considerable information about the Pakistani military and intelligence world.   Typically in the press one hears about ISI and their possible support of the Taliban or OBL. There’s a big difference between vaguely linking bold-face current events and anonymous foreign institutions, and getting a sense of how people interact inside their own bubble.

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