Book: Red Birds
Author : Mohammad Hanif
An American pilot crash lands in the desert, unprepared for any situation that can’t be resolved with the After Eight mints in his survival kit. Hallucinating palm trees and dehydrating isn’t Major Ellie’s idea of a good time, but he figures it’s less of a hassle than another marital spat back home. In a neighbouring refugee camp, Momo has his own problems; his money-making schemes aren’t working out as planned, his dog has ideas above his station and an academic researcher has shown up to study him for her thesis on the Teenage Muslim Mind. And then there’s the matter of his missing brother…
Magical realism is a genre that puts me in awe and also forces me to read a second time. Same has been the case in this book. Using magical realism, Hanif used dark humour to shove reality on the face, with a punch that leaves readers like me reeling from the impact.This book is a reminder that war continues to loom on earth like pollution as we move ahead in our lives, oblivious. We need books like this one to remind us.The setting, though unnamed, gave me vibes of Khaled Hosseini’s picture of Afghanistan in A Thousand Splendid Suns.”When someone dies in a raid or a shooting or when someone’s throat is slit, their last drop of blood transforms into a tiny red bird and flies away.” This line coming from a canine character made me concentrate on this character more than his human counterparts because among the bizarre circumstances, the mutt made more sense than the central character Momo who is as convoluted as a momo (the Asian food item) looks.
This book is ideal for someone who likes political satire and who enjoys magical realism as a genre.
Being my first Mohammad Hanif read, this book is simple and again twisted that I read it twice before writing this review.