by Mohsin Hamid
I read a review of this book a while back and, interested as I am becoming in Asian writers, decided to give it a go.
Set in Lahore, Moth Smoke tells the story, though several voices, of Daru Shezad. Daru is a well-educated Junior Banker. So far his life has been fairly easy, mainly due to the respect people had for his father. He seems to have everything, but he soon learns just how fragile his way of life really is.
Losing his job is the start of a journey that leads Daru on a much darker road. He falls in love with his best friend’s new wife, starts selling drugs, gets hooked on heroin and becomes involved with a criminally minded owner of a rickshaw business.
But Daru is not a bad guy. He is trapped by a system that is corrupt and based on family ties rather than ability. He is also weak, and makes poor decisions.
The road that Daru finds himself on is lonely and dark and the end is inevitable, if unexpected.
I found myself having a great deal of sympathy for Daru, even when I knew he was making terrible mistakes. We all reach points in our lives when we have to make decisions that we know will change our futures, and we don’t always get it right. IN Moth Smoke, Mohsin shows us what can happen if we get it wrong. More importantly, what happens when we can’t see the mistakes we have made and don’t do something to correct it.
Very well written and well observed. An insight into life in a country I know almost nothing about. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be adding his second book, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” to my wish list.