- Author : Nate Rabe
Publisher : Speaking Tiger
Genre : Comedy, Thrller
Source : Publisher
Rating : Somewhere between 3-4 stars but not 3.5.
I’ll be honest right upfront, I have no idea how to rate this book. On the one side it is every feminist’s nightmare. On the other hand it has the potential to be every fun loving male’s favourite book. And just because the author cannot write women or think of them as anything more than a plot point doesn’t mean the author can’t write. Because he can write and while I usually use the term “This would be a great movie” as a veiled insult this time I don’t mean it that way.
Do you remember the old Indian (I imagine Pakistani films are also the same) films? Where the hero was the be all and end all? A rogue with a conscience? even though he is a creep and a stalker the heroine falls for his stalking? There is a villain who is generally older and has a thing for the young heroine? That is what this book is. And in that genre (Not sure what genre that is) it is done very well. But if I were to look at it as a 21st century book with 21st century feminist tests, it would fail miserably.
If I had been a man I would have probably rated this 4 stars, but as a woman I’m giving it three. Two stars for writing well, one star for keeping the reader engaged through the ridiculous plot. The remaining two stars are not earned because the ending fell thoroughly flat and the female may as well have been made an idiot from the first page.
WHAT I LIKED : The author writes really well. I’m not sure how to explain this since this isn’t literary fiction it’s not like I can quote line after line (I don’t do that even for literary fiction) but the author does have his moments and those moments are definitely hilarious. He manages to keep you engaged throughout the read as I mentioned earlier. It is hard to keep a reader who loves female writers engaged in a book by an author who cannot write women but he does it and definitely deserves praise for that.
“But in this country, if you were friendly with your acquaintances and you were a woman, you were, it seemed, daring their manhood to rise up and acquit itself.”
I also loved how the author veered off temporarily into the lives of secondary and tertiary characters just to give the reader more insight into what they would be like, what their motivations are and what their actions might be. Again, very skilfully done and I look forward to reading future books of his that aren’t as “by a man for men”.
WHAT I DISLIKED : As I mentioned before, the author cannot write women. There is only one conversation between two women in this book and it is about a man. Therefore it spectacularly fails the Bechdel test. Two girls (named) talk to each other (yes) about something other than a man(fail). Afroze, one of the ladies here, starts off feminist and kickass. She doesn’t have time for Jack King’s idiocy and honestly couldn’t care less for his cringy fake whiteness but somehow she falls for his “charms”. He actually says “what’s a pretty thing like you doing in a dump like this Rosie” On the upside the female is hardly featured here so it’s pretty much forgettable. If you can ignore that this is a pretty great book.
All in all, I would recommend this book for men who are looking for a fun and quick read, women who aren’t feminists and for anything looking to read about Pakistan from the POV of an outsider. As described, it is a hedonistic romp filled with hilarity and OMG moments that would will definitely want to see as a film.
When he gets out of jail for the seventh time, Yaqub Shah aka Jack King–from Chicago–vows never to go back again. Fed up of running small-time scams for other people, he convinces his law-abiding guardian, Uncle Jalal, that he wants to sort out his life and return to Pakistan. What he really has in mind is a blockbuster heroin deal–sourcing product from the motherland, and supplying to the Midwest in America–which will let him retire as the ‘King of Chicago.’
Heading back to the place of a painful past–his dear mother long gone and an estranged father only interested in his business empire–Jack is determined to stay no longer than necessary. Pakistan, however, finds a way of getting under his skin–he falls in love with the beautiful Afroz, who reminds him of the futility of running away from home; he gets into a drunken scuffle with Mushtaq Gill, who happens to be the head of the National Intelligence Agency; and when things really start heating up, he must confront himself and the life he truly desires.