A graduate from the University of East Anglia, Mohammed Hanif was born in November 1964 in Okara. He qualified from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer, but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He initially
A graduate from the University of East Anglia, Mohammed Hanif was born in November 1964 in Okara. He qualified from Pakistan Air Force Academy as a pilot officer, but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He initially worked for Newsline and wrote for The Washington Post and India Today. In 1996, he moved to London to work for the BBC. Later, he became the head of the BBC's Urdu service in London. However, in 2008 he decided to return to Pakistan, with his wife, the actress Nimra Bucha, and his two children.
His first novel ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ (2008) was shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Book Award and long-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. It won the 2009 Commonwealth Book Prize in the Best First Book category and the 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.
Mohammad Hanif has also written for the stage and screen, including a feature film, The Long Night (2002), a BBC radio play, What Now, Now That We Are Dead?, and the stage play The Dictator's Wife (2008). His second novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, was published in 2011. It was shortlisted for the ‘Wellcome Trust Book Prize’ (2012), and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (2013).
A satirical novelist, Mohammad Hanif's style has often been compared with that of author Salman Rushdie, but Hanif disagrees. Even though he says that he enjoys reading Rushdie's books, he would not want to suffer the same fate as Rushdie did.
His work explores the contradictions in Pakistani society and he is one of a generation of new writers in the country who are keen to show it is not mired in conflict. He talks to Razia Iqbal about his novels ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’ and ‘Our Lady of Alice Bhatti’ and why he likes to make his readers laugh.
The writer and former BBC journalist Mohammed Hanif is an intriguing character, he strikes a stark figure with his cigarettes and contemplative looks, like something lifted from an old film noir. As a novelist, Mohammed tips the boundaries of literary expression, interweaving the comedic with the tragic, his erudite prose and ebullient narratives are scintillating.
Mohammed Hanif’s first novel ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’, published in 2008, was a darkly comic tale about the death of the ultra-conservative General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, a historical figure that to this day is the cause of much contention, the novel lit a fire of interest amongst literary circles across the world, for its rib tickling re-valuation of the General’s demise.