Red Birdsby Mohammed Hanif
From the prize-winning author hailed as “Pakistan’s brightest voice” (Guardian), comes a powerful and darkly satirical novel about the the harsh, absurd hypocrisies of American intervention in the Muslim world
An American pilot crash lands in the desert and finds himself on the outskirts of the very camp he was supposed to bomb. After days spent wandering and hallucinating from dehydration, Major Ellie is rescued by one of the camp’s residents, a teenager named Momo, whose entrepreneurial money-making schemes are failing as his family is falling apart: His older brother, Ali, left for his first day of work at an American base and never returned; his parents are at each other’s throats; his dog, Mutt, is having a very bad day; and an earthy-crunchy aid worker has shown up wanting to research him for her book on the Teenage Muslim Mind. Amidst the madness, Momo sets out to search for his brother Ali, hoping his new Western acquaintances might be able to help find him. But as the truth of Ali’s whereabouts begin to unfold, the effects of American “aid” on this war-torn country are revealed to be increasingly pernicious.
Written with his trademark wit and keen eye for absurdity, and revealing critical truths about the state of the world today, Red Birds shows master storyteller Mohammed Hanif at the height of his powers.
“Hanif, Booker-longlisted for A Case of Exploding Mangoes, dives headfirst into an unnamed desert in the present day and the disparate characters stuck in it… Hanif’s portrait of the surrealism and commonplaceness of America’s wars in Muslim countries is nearly impossible to put down. The camp in particular crackles with humanity, bizarreness, and banality… The novel manages to remain delightful and unpredictable even in its darkest moments, highlighting the hypocrisies and constant confusions of American intervention abroad.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Red Birds is a piercingly laugh-out-loud novel in a genre that doesn’t often abide comedy. But Hanif pushes his narrative beyond mere irony, expanding his critique of America’s military interventions to include satire, ghost stories and absurdist touches — up to and including a canine narrator that’s usually smarter than any human in the room.”—Washington Post
“Funny, fresh, and not afraid to draw blood, this is an unusual gem of a book.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Hanif has written a splendidly satirical novel that beautifully captures the absurdity and folly of war and its ineluctable impact on its survivors. At turns funny and heartbreaking, it is a memorable contribution to the literature of conflict.”—Booklist (starred review)
“[A] wonderfully strange exploration of the effects of war on civilians. Mohmmed Hanif’s Red Birds is part Catch-22, part Slaughterhouse-Five, part Kafka’s The Castle, and all Hanif’s darkly satirical wit and wildly creative imagination.”—BookBrowse
“Red Birds is a fresh marvel, describing with cool wit and steely yet tender intelligence the interlinked fates of antagonists in a forgotten war-scape – and the complicity of our own sheltered lives in remote conflicts.” –Pankaj Mishra
“Mohammed Hanif is a brave, gifted writer.” —Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West
“Witty, elegant, and deliciously anarchic. Hanif has a lovely eye and an even better ear.” —John le Carré, on Case of the Exploding Mangoes
“An insanely brilliant, satirical first novel . . . Belongs in a tradition that includes Catch-22, but it also calls to mind the biting comedy of Philip Roth.” —Washington Post, on Case of the Exploding Mangoes
“A comedy for those who think, a tragedy for those who feel… Hanif does Karachi better than Rushdie does Bombay… Relentlessly readable, compulsively so as it surges towards it apocalyp-tic conclusion” —Guardian, on Our Lady of Alice Bhatti