©2000 Mohsin Hamid; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America
"A first novel of remarkable wit, poise, profundity, and strangeness....Hamid is a writer of gorgeous, lush prose, and superb dialogue....Moth Smoke is a treat." (Esquire)
Moth Smoke presented a lively but disturbing portrait of life among the wealthy and privileged in Pakistan. The novel includes a Great Gatsby-like love triangle between the narrator, his best friend and the best friend's wife. The narrator, who is smart and handsome but whose background is less privileged than that of his friends, finds himself in increasing trouble as he tries to exercise the prerogatives of the young and rich without the means or connections. And despite the narrator's strong moral sense, he has a devastating sense of entitlement that ends up creating havoc in his life.
The images of Lahore, with its disparities in wealth and its casual corruption, were informative. A favorite minor character was the narrator's young servant, who comes the closest to a moral center for the novel.
The narration was well done, and the story easily holds up through the end. One drawback: The beginning, with allusions to Pakistani myths and an imagined courtroom scene, is hard to follow in audio. It's the kind of book you have to get in hard copy just to check out what was going on at the beginning. But then, as the novel flows, it gets easier to follow. Overall, a worthwhile and entertaining read.
I decided to read this book after having read the author's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I absolutely loved. This is the author's debut book; while I also enjoyed this one, I did not like it as much as The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
I listened to this through Audible, and once again, the narration was outstanding.
I was confused at first as to what was happening, but once I learned who the characters were and figured out what was going on, I enjoyed the mystery; luckily, it didn't take too long to figure things out. We know at the outset that Daru is in prison, but not the reason why; we also do not know anything about him. The story is told through the perspectives of various characters, which I found to be enjoyable. The book details how Daru's decline occurred and what happens when he continues to be drawn to a certain course of action. Daru was not always likeable, which I saw had turned many readers off of the story. I did not find that to be the case, however. Sure, he was not always likeable, but I think that just added to the human element of the story and added legitimacy to his deteriorating circumstances.
As with The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I felt like I was learning about Pakistan and the Pakistani culture, which was very educational and informative. Pakistan is integral to the story line and this book could not have been written as effectively in any other setting.
The title drew my curiousity as I could not fathom how it related to the story. When the author describes the moth going in smaller, rotating circles around a flame and getting closer even though it knows its dangerous, I could see the similarities with Daru's situation. Like the moth, he was going in a downward spiral but was powerless to stop it, even though he know on some level it was destroying him.
I want to read books that take me to a "place and/or time" I've never been. On the other hand, I love reading about places where I HAVE been.
Pay attention to the names in the preface and how they are used as the characters' names in the story.
You are the judge listening to the interviews of the various characters in this modern day story set in Lahore, Pakistan. A crime has been committed. A trial is going on. Edgy and allegorical tale of the struggle between Pakistan and India. Perhaps you can figure out which of the characters represents which country. Both vie for the affection of Kashmir (also the surname of the female character.) One of the two main characters becomes responsible for the death of a boy. Who did it? Beautiful writing.
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