- Moth Smoke
1st edition (UK)
Author(s) Mohsin Hamid Country United Kingdom Language English Genre(s) Novel Publisher Granta (UK)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US)
Publication date 2000 Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) ISBN 0-374-21354-2 OCLC Number 42397410 Dewey Decimal 813/.54 21 LC Classification PS3558.A42169 M68 2000
Moth Smoke is a novel written by Mohsin Hamid, published in 2000. It tells the story of Darashikoh Shezad, a banker in Lahore, Pakistan, who loses his job, falls in love with his best friend's wife, and plunges into a life of drugs and crime. It uses the historical trial of the liberal Mughal prince Dara Shikoh by his brother Aurangzeb as an allegory for the state of Pakistan at the time of the 1998 nuclear tests.
Darashikoh, or Daru as he is referred to, is a mid-level banker with a short fuse. His aggression had served him well as a college-boxer but an out-of-character outburst gets him fired. The loss of income brings to the fore a widening gap between him and his classmates, and Daru exposes his bitterness to the wealthy in his commentary. This contrast in income, though present through their years at school becomes evident to Daru only now as he comes to realise that money and wealth mean more than his personal traits can offer.
He is content to interact with his rich friends all the same, and finds comfort in the arms of Mumtaz - Daru's best friend's wife. Mumtaz falls for Daru too, but unlike Daru she is not an idealist. This mismatch of thought comes to the forefront soon after the long and rocky affair begins. While cuckolding his best friend, Daru is content to sell him drugs, which are socially acceptable among his friends. This life of duplicity leads to spiralling loss of control in his life.
In the New York Review of Books, Anita Desai noted: "One could not really continue to write, or read about, the slow seasonal changes, the rural backwaters, gossipy courtyards, and traditional families in a world taken over by gun-running, drug-trafficking, large-scale industrialism, commercial entrepreneurship, tourism, new money, nightclubs, boutiques... Where was the Huxley, the Orwell, the Scott Fitzgerald, or even the Tom Wolfe, Jay McInerney, or Brett Easton Ellis to record this new world? Mohsin Hamid's novel Moth Smoke, set in Lahore, is one of the first pictures we have of that world."
Awards and nominations
The book was adapted into the 2002 Pakistani film, Daira (which translates to "circle" in Urdu). It was directed by Azfar Ali and stars Pakistani actor Shahzad Nawaz.
- ^ Society of Authors - Betty Trask Prizes and Awards (past winners)
- ^ 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award Recipients Announced
- ^ New York Times - Holiday Books 2000
- ^ Salman, Saima (2002-07-13). "Up in smoke". Dawn. http://www.dawn.com/weekly//images/archive/020714/images6.htm. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
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