After I finished reading, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, my thoughts were all over the place and I had questions for the author. I managed to conduct a short interview with Mohammed Hanif over the phone and here it is for you:
1.A Case of Exploding Mangoes is radically different from Our Lady of Alice Bhatti. What inspired Our Lady?
Lots of brilliant, gutsy women I have worked with. Also an unhealthy interest in other people’s personal lives.
2.Your take on the Pakistan that you see today…
Pretty bleak place, with bits of it blowing up every day. Weather is lovely though.
3.Our Lady is satirically funny and at the same time there is this sadness attached to it. How closely do you relate or connect to Alice’s point of view?
I spent a lot of time with her while writing this. Spent even more time with her while not writing and just thinking about her. But I don’t really know if I am any closer to her point of view. I wasn’t aiming for a realistic portrait of a profession nurse. I think in the end all I have ended up doing is channelling my own obsessions.
4.What influenced you to be a reader first and then a writer?
Boredom I guess. I grew up in a village where there was no TV, no newspapers, no books. Printed word was a rare exotic thing and I found it very exciting. And a lot of random, obsessive reading can lead to some scribbles which after a lot of rewriting can sometimes turn into writing.
5.Your literary influences…
Too many. Punjabi classical poets. Virginia Woolf. Hanif Kureishi. Truman Capote. City pages of local news papers. Day time TV.
6.Mohammed Hanif the writer…
is always at war with that other Hanif who hates writing.
7.Mohammed Hanif’s next book would be about?
Love, I hope. Or some spectacular crime.
You can buy his books here: