This exuberant account, featuring a protagonist as unlikely as he is appealing, is a true pleasure for its language and discourses on life, death, and what’s in between. The footnotes that stud the narrative and the appended family tree and glossary are both entertaining and erudite, as is this unusual novel itself.
... delirious love letter to the Karachi that was ... Behind these slapstick dramas, Mr. Naqvi colors in a vibrant portrait of the sprawling port city. Abdullah’s account, larded with footnotes and digressions, dilates on such subjects as history, horticulture, architecture, poetry, music and 'culinary anthropology ... Continuing in the tradition of cultural largess, Mr. Naqvi includes a recipe for a first-rate chicken karahi—a dish best served with a glass of Rooh Afza and, if you’re Abdullah, a chaser of insulin.
The footnotes occasionally crowd out the main text, with details that international readers may find exotic and mysterious, but with which local readers will already be familiar ... The book’s strength does not lie in its regurgitation of local history and folklore, but in its witty portrayal of the characters Karachi has to offer ... Through the use of a roman-à-clef, the author is able to create compelling caricatures that take on a life of their own.
Loquacious verging on garrulous, Abdullah narrates this self-mocking, wildly discursive, and often comic narrative dotted inexhaustibly with footnotes and archly grandiose chapter titles ... lovingly evoked milieu, the uniquely vibrant neighborhoods and characters, culture, history, architecture, and aromas of the city ... Infused with the spirit of Tristram Shandy, a sophisticated shaggy dog story for those happy to take the slow road and its many detours.