Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tender Hooks - Book Review


I recently read an interview with Pakistani author Moni Mohsin regarding the launch of her new book "Tender Hooks" and was intrigued enough to pick it up at Evening Hour. This is her second book after the huge success of "The diary of a social butterfly", based on her popular column in the newspaper.

The premise is simple. The protagonist, assumed to be "Mrs. Butterfly" is from an elite, well-do-to Pakistani family with an enchanted life - a large house, many servants, an adorable son and an Oxford educated (referred to fondly as Oxen) husband who lets her be herself. Butterfly observes the world through her rose-tinted glasses and her nose in the air, considering her place in society. Through her liberal use of grammatical errors (Thanks God), homophones (waste deep in snow), spelling goof-ups (good baggrounds), good old funny takes on known institutions (works in a bank Golden Sacks), slightly off the wall phrases (good radiance) and the like, Butterfly maintains a running comic monologue. I burst out laughing at least once in each chapter.

The chapters are short and begin with a date and what is presumably a newspaper headline. The book is not just about an airhead's view of Pakistani high society but a tongue-in-cheek critique of life in Pakistan today. Butterfly's breezy views on the army versus taliban, honest citizens versus the smugglers are put forth in an understated manner without ruffling any feathers.

In this book, Butterfly has the task of finding a bride for Jonkers, her cousin, by his overbearing mother, Aunt Pussy. Finding the right girl from the appropriate background is not as easy at is seems to be and we meet an endearing cast of characters in hilarious situations as we hurtle towards an unexpected ending. Butterfly operates from her superficial principles in most situations but is actually a feisty and sensible woman when push comes to shove.

I think Moni Mohsin has brought the right balance of humor to a lovable protagonist to highlight current issues in Pakistan with her breezy narration and wonderful wit. Definitely a must-read.

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