HM Naqvi shoots cocaine, smart patois and energy into the tired 9/11 novel

Nisha Susan in Tehelka:

ScreenHunter_04 Feb. 13 10.39 One of the annoying things about contemporary South Asian writing is the lack of memorable characters. Where are the people who leap off the page and lodge themselves under your skin? Where are the characters whose names you remember? Part of the problem is the locating of narrative within a thin shell of geopolitical significance. Post 9/11, much of our literature has suffered from the ‘Angst in the Time of’ syndrome. Young Pakistani writer HM Naqvi breathes life and urgency into the tiresome subgenre with his energetic, rich turn of phrase and a memorable trio of young men in New York around 9/11.

Neither cynicism nor affectation taints his description of the loss of innocence suffered by AC, Jimbo and our hero Chuck — all Pakistanis — first generation, second generation and expatriate respectively. From the first page Naqvi plunges you into the clubs, the happy pursuit of dope, sex and glorious hangover food. Naqvi is skilled at capturing the sensory states of very young men: the ravenous hunger and enjoyment of food, the complicated lives within cliques, the still larger-thanlife presence of parents. He has a gift for painting the ‘scene’, understood in the ordinary literary sense or in the sense of revelry. With the air of a banquet he presents clubs, dinners at AC’s sister’s home as well as hospital lobbies. Largely, these spectacles grow out of his wonderful descriptions of faces and bodies.

More here.

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