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Publisher's Summary

The debut novel from the internationally best-selling author of Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Moth Smoke, Mohsin Hamid’s deftly conceived first novel, immediately marked him as an uncommonly gifted and ambitious young literary talent to watch when it was published in 2000. It tells the story of Daru Shezad, who, fired from his banking job in Lahore, begins a decline that plummets the length of Hamid’s sharply drawn, subversive tale.

Fast-paced and unexpected, Moth Smoke was ahead of its time in portraying a contemporary Pakistan far more vivid and complex than the exoticized images of South Asia then familiar to the West. It established Mohsin Hamid as an internationally important writer of substance and imagination and the premier Pakistani author of our time, a promise he has amply fulfilled with each successive book. This debut novel, meanwhile, remains as compelling and deeply relevant to the moment as when it appeared more than a decade ago.

©2012 Mohsin Hamid (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The most impressive of his gifts is the clearsightedness of his look at the power structure of a society that has shifted from the old feudalism, based on birth, to the new Pakistani feudalism based on wealth." (The New York Review of Books)

"A brisk, absorbing novel...inventive...trenchant.... Hamid steers us from start to finish with assurance and care." (Jhumpa Lahiri, The New York Times Book Review)

"Pakistan, seventh most populous country in the world, is one of the countries whose literature has been overlooked. Now its chair has been taken, and looks to be occupied for years to come, by the extraordinary new novelist Mohsin Hamid." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Innovative in style and substance

There is no other author I'd rather read right now than Hamid. Having absolutely loved his recent works, Exit West and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, I eagerly sought out this early novel, which my library was unable to obtain. Moth Smoke was well worth the effort. The emotional impact of Exit West and the innovative voices and structure of How to get Filthy Rich can find their roots in this novel. The story follows Daru, a out-of-work and depressed Pakistani who finds himself a witness to a crime. We follow him as he spirals into an affair and drug use. But the story is much more than Daru's story. It gives us an insight into Lahore and the societal structures there. By jumping perspectives, and even from first, second, and third-person storytelling, Hamid paints a picture of a Lahore ruled by an educated and elite 1% while people like Daru are unable to get ahead. Still, Daru's decisions blaze his own path.
Hamid structures stories like no other. His ability to use second-person structures to insert the reader into the narrative is highly effective here as well as in How to Get Filthy Rich. While he expertly plays with style, he never neglects the emotional impact of his stories. I've left each of his books emotionally impacted. Any of Hamid's novels are a good place to start. Moth Smoke, while not as tightly crafted as his others, showcases the innovative talent of this truly unique author.

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