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Our Lady of Alice Bhatti Hardcover – 6 Oct 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (6 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224082051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224082051
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 616,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

`his vivid prose has tremendous Immediacy' --Daily Mail

...The prose attains the heights of poetry...Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is profoundly humane, and humanist. --The Guardian

Rambunctious, vulgar, funny and moving, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti wields enormous emotional punch --Time Magazine

This very finely put-together novel sparkles and glitters but never shows off. --The Guardian

`Hanif's storytelling is frequently impressive... touching and unusual' --Literary Review, Faith Brinkley

'Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions' --Time Out, Rachel Platt

'I am so gripped by what the book is trying to tell me that I cannot put it down' --Spectator, Melissa Kite

'The wry narrative refreshingly resists all manner of stereotypes and flowery sentimentality' --The Independent, Iman Qureshi

'The writing is superbly witty and assured' --The Times, Kate Saunders

Book Description

The glorious new novel from the author of the internationally acclaimed, bestselling A Case of Exploding Mangoes

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By neverendings on 21 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ben Mirza on 17 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip Shapiro on 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
Shapiro@talktalk
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