There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. "A Case of Exploding Mangoes" is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of: mechanical failure; human error; the CIA's impatience; a blind woman's curse; generals not happy with their pension plans; the mango season Or could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri? Here are the facts such as: a military dictator reads the Quran every morning as if it was his daily horoscope; under officer Ali Shigri carries a deadly message on the tip of his sword; his friend Obaid answers all life's questions with a splash of eau de cologne and a quote from Rilke; and a crow has crossed the Pakistani border illegally.
As young Shigri moves from a mosque hall to his military barracks before ending up in a Mughal dungeon, there are questions that haunt him: What does it mean to betray someone and still love them? How many names does Allah really have? Who killed his father, Colonel Shigri? Who will kill his killers? And where the hell has Obaid disappeared to? Teasing, provocative, and very funny, Mohammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream.
Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan, in 1965. He graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer, but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He has written plays for the stage and BBC radio, and his film The Long Night has been shown at film festivals around the world. He is a graduate of UEA's creative writing programme. He is currently head of the BBC's Urdu Service and lives in London.