Frank Brinkley

Karachi Casualties

Our Lady of Alice Bhatti

By

Jonathan Cape 231pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Mohammed Hanif’s second novel marks a change of scene and tone from his debut, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, about Zia-ul-Haq’s fatal air crash. Here we have a mixture of love story and well-observed description of Karachi life. Corrupt police shenanigans and interfaith dialogue share a bed with the inpatients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments, a Catholic public infirmary packed to bursting with anyone too poor to afford private health care. Alice Bhatti, the daughter of a Catholic street sweeper, manages to secure a job as a nurse at the Sacred, despite the disapproval of certain Muslim doctors and the fact that she has just spent fourteen months in prison for causing grievous bodily harm to a leading surgeon. In the course of the novel she goes from nurse to bride to fugitive wife and surrogate mother.

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