Winner of the inaugural DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, H.M. Naqvi follows his critically-lauded debut Home Boy with The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack, an enthralling novel about one unforgettable and gloriously unaccomplished man, his impending death, and the history and life of his bustling, shape-shifting city.
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.
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.