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Our Lady of Alice Bhattiby Mohammed Hanif
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the acclaimed A Case of Exploding Mangoes (“An insanely brilliant, satirical first novel . . . Belongs in a tradition that includes Catch-22”—The Washington Post), a subversively, often shockingly funny new novel set in steaming Karachi, about second chances, thwarted ambitions and love in the most unlikely places.
The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments need a miracle. Alice Bhatti may be just what they’re looking for. She’s the new junior nurse, but that’s the only ordinary thing about her. She’s just been released from the Borstal Jail for Women and Children. But more to the point, she’s the daughter of a part-time healer in the French Colony, Karachi’s infamous Christian slum, and it seems she has, unhappily, inherited his part-time gift. With a bit of begrudging but inspired improvisation, Alice begins to bring succor to the patients lining the hospital’s corridors and camped outside its gates. But all is not miraculous. Alice is a Christian in an Islamic world, ensnared in the red tape of hospital bureaucracy, trapped by the caste system, torn between her duty to her patients, her father and her husband—who is a former bodybuilding champion, now an apprentice to the nefarious “Gentleman’s Squad” of the Karachi police, and about to drag Alice into a situation so dangerous that perhaps not even a miracle will be able to save them. But, of course, Alice Bhatti is no ordinary young woman . . .
At once a high comedy of errors and a searing illumination of the seemingly unchangeable role of women in Pakistan’s lower-caste society, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a resounding confirmation of Mohammed Hanif’s gifts of storytelling and of razor-sharp social satire.
"Absurdity and chaos reign in rising Pakistani author Hanif's rowdy fusion of social commentary and curiously bloody love story. Being female, Catholic, and untouchable makes nurse Alice Bhatti a minority three times over in Pakistan, where 'most of life's arguments settled by doing various things to a woman's body.' Impudent, headstrong, and possibly gifted with her father's healing touch, Alice has risen out of the Christian slum, no small feat when most Catholic untouchables are sweepers. At the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments, Alice punishes those who would harm her, wielding a razor with the same nonchalance that the doctors wield stethoscopes; she dispatches one would-be rapist with blood-splattering ease. The perpetrators are often those who 'wouldn't drink from a tap that she has touched have no problem casually poking their elbows into her breast.' Her violence attracts Teddy Butt, a weightlifter and underling in the Karachi police, and soon Alice must navigate the surprising parameters of an inter-religious and inter-caste marriage. In this amusing novel, Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes) renders the intricacies and limitations of Pakistan's lowest rungs with humor and candor, allowing as little pity for his characters as they allow themselves. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the author of the universally acclaimed debut novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes: a subversive, often shockingly funny new novel set in steaming Karachi, about second chances, thwarted ambitions, and love in the most unlikely places.
The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments need a miracle, and Alice Bhatti may be just what they're looking for. She's the new junior nurse, but that's the only thing ordinary about her. Her father is a part-time healer in the French Colony, Karachi's Christian slum--and it seems she has inherited his part-time gift. With a bit of begrudging but inspired improvisation, Alice brings succor to the patients lining the hospital's corridors. Yet, a Christian in an Islamic world, she is ensnared in the red tape of hospital bureaucracy, trapped by the caste system, and torn between her duty to her patients, her father, and her husband--an apprentice to the nefarious "Gentlemen's Squad" of the police, and about to plunge them both into a situation so dangerous that perhaps not even a miracle can save them. But, of course, Alice Bhatti is no ordinary nurse...
About the Author
Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan. He graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He has written for stage, film and BBC Radio. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, short-listed for The Guardian First Book Award and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Novel. He was the head of the BBC Urdu Service in London and now works as their special correspondent based in Karachi.
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