Title: Moth Smoke
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
First published: 2000
Finished reading: August 5th 2013
“Many boys, probably most boys, have a first love before they fall in love with a woman. It begins the moment two boys realize they’d die for one another, that each cares more for the other than he does for himself, and it lasts usually until a second love comes on the scene, because most hearts aren’t big enough to love more than one person like that.”
I always like books with a foreign setting, so Moth Smoke was an easy choice. The story of a lost soul in the middle of Lahore, one of the mayor cities in Pakistan, sounded really intriguing and it’s always a bonus when that author actually knows what he is talking about when he describes contemporary Pakistan. The Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid is able to show glimpses of the current situation in his country and its extreme differences between rich and poor through his characters. It’s hard to have sympathy for Daru, but that doesn’t take away that the story shows the weakness of human nature perfectly. Drugs, corruption and lack of will power can truly change lives… And the fall and downhill spiral towards destruction even bigger when you start out with such a comfortable life as Daru’s. In short, Moth Smoke is a good choice if you want to know more about life in Pakistan especially since it’s written by a local. Fast-paced and very intriguing!
Daru Shezad is part of the middle class Pakistani, but managed to make a quite comfortable life for himself and is used to moving around in the higher classes of Lahora thanks to friends in the right places. When his drug use and arrogant attitude make him lose his banking job, he soon falls into a downward spiral towards destruction. Before long, he can’t even pay his bills and loses his connections with the Lahore elite…His drug use becomes more frequent, and to make things worse he falls in love with the wife of his childhood friend and rival. Daru is desperate to find a way out and starts his career in crime, but with the drugs clouding his mind he ends up doing something truly unforgivable…
Moth Smoke is a very interesting read where a colorful description of contemporary Pakistan is mixed with a fast-paced, disturbing and raw story. The main character Daru is not exactly likeable, but he fits right into the story and through him Moshin Hamid is able to show the darker side of life in Lahore. If you like reading a good book set in a culture you might not know that much about, Moth Smoke is a great choice.