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Our Lady of Alice Bhatti [Paperback]

Mohammed Hanif
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

4 Oct 2012

The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments in Karachi are looking for a miracle. Junior nurse, ex-prisoner and part-time healer Alice Bhatti is looking for a job.

With guidance from the working nurse's manual, and some tricks she picked up in prison, Alice starts work at the crowded hospital bringing help to the thousands of patients littering the corridors. But her new life isn't easy and on top of everything else Alice impulsively falls for optimist and loveable good Teddy Butt - a ragtag law enforcement officer by night and a bodybuilder by day.

Can Alice and Teddy live happily ever after? Will the hospital accept her unorthodox ways? It all seems unlikely, but then Alice Bhatti is no ordinary nurse and this is downtown Karachi where the unusual is ordinary .

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Our Lady of Alice Bhatti + A Case of Exploding Mangoes + In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0099516756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099516750
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Belly-laugh-inducing. Sam Lypsyte funny. Faulty-Towers funny.The silliness is anarchic and profound.a ripping story and a rowdy piece of art" (New York Times)

"Relentlessly readable" (Guardian)

"Alice Bhatti's Karachi is so alive with sensations that you can smell the sewers, hear the screeching of tyres, and feel the humidity" (Scotsman)

"Superbly witty" (The Times)

"An amusingly anarchic tale of Karachi life" (Lady)

Book Description

'A tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions' - Time Out

From the author of the award-winning, critically-acclaimed debut, A Case of Exploding Mangoes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be warned: far darker than you might expect 21 May 2012
Alice Bhatti, recently of borstal, has somehow talked her way into a nursing job at the Sacred Heart Hospital (possibly due to being the only applicant), where she finds herself the unexpected object of devotion for young bodybuilding police ruffian Teddy Butt, more at home with a gun than with poetry. Alice's father Joseph has the mystical ability to cure stomach ulcers; but Alice has the less welcome `gift' of seeing death in the faces of those she meets.

At first I found the narrative quite entertaining as we joined Alice on the day of interview for her nursing job, and simultaneously, Teddy massacres his own thumb so that the police can `justifiably' arrest someone for a previous crime. I wasn't quite sure I agreed with the logic, but was willing to go with it. The author tells his tale with a wry sense of humour which was initially easy to engage with, but even in the first couple of chapters it sometimes felt incongruous.

The lighter episodes really did not sit well for me, alongside Hanif's depiction of the harsh realities of corrupt Karachi life, where the treatment of women in general is, quite frankly, disturbing. I didn't want to laugh about it. I'm hoping that - given the ending - this was actually Hanif's point. I was expecting a slightly quirky romance between not-quite-trustworthy characters and the subject matter caught me unawares. It was not a story that was easy to warm to when juxtaposed with the seamy side of life in which the characters lived, regardless of their claimed religion. Very few of the characters are as they initially appear, and you will probably be surprised by some of the side characters, before the story ends.

I am really torn on my opinion of this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Brilliance 17 Sep 2012
As the inimitable lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale once said "Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter's or sculptor's work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God's spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said the finest of Fine Arts." I know from friends and relatives that nursing comprises of two emotional components, elation and frustration. The majority of the time it involves thankless tasks, mired in dirt, grime and excrement or pointless administrational busy work, until the next cavalcade of sick pass through the front entrance, on a procession of rusty trolleys and squeaky wheelchairs. However, those moments of real nursing, those of which all nurses dream of, caring for the sick and injured, offer something that makes the miniscule and superfluous acts more palatable. In Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, published in Britain and Pakistan respectively, Mohammed Hanif's writing is as electrifying as ever.

The setting of his latest tale is Karachi, where a noxious atmosphere of ethnic, religious and caste tensions are steadily drowning this bustling metropolis, there is no hint of exoticism or rainbow tinged fantasy, just the stark reality of everyday life in a run-down hospital - The Sacred Heart. The absence of sweet smelling mango trees, sprawling chameli and Ghalib references makes room for explorations into the personal and working lives of Pakistan's Christian Choorah's, those at the bottom end of a complex caste-system.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully amusing and engaging book 10 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Cleverly written with terrific insights into daily life. Some very clever writing with an edge. Well worth the effort to read the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, my favourite book of 2012! 19 Feb 2013
Utterly enthralling, Our Lady Of Alice Bhatti is a damning indictment of the state of the country it's set in and the way women are treated, particularly those from a Christian background that the rest of Pakistani society looks down on. There are some truly great Pakistani women out there defying all the odds, so if nothing else, this book will get you hooked on their struggle in a male dominated society not dis-similar to India's despite the perceived difference in women's status.

Hanif draws the reader in gently, then casually slips in appalling violence interspersed with dark humour and flights of fancy. Read it and wish more authors could write like him!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Our lady of Alice bhatti 20 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Whole text too jumbled - no real plot to follow, a disappointing read - not recommended for serious readers
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