book cover of Moth Smoke

Moth Smoke

(1998)
A novel by

 
 
Awards
Betty Trask Award Best First Novel (nominee)
Since the late 1970s, India in all her infinite variety has been brought to life as a posse of Indian authors writing in English have exploded onto the scene: Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Rohinton Mistry, Vikram Seth, Bharati Mukherjee--the list is legion. But what of Pakistan--that Siamese twin, painfully separated in the partition of 1947? Though neither as numerous nor as well known as their Indian counterparts, Pakistani writers are beginning to make an impression on Western readers. Novelists from Rushdie to the Pakistani Bapsi Sidwha have written about the partition and the bloody civil war that followed; even stories set in modern-day Bombay or Lahore cannot escape the aftershocks of the division. On the surface, Mohsin Hamid's first novel, Moth Smoke, seems more domestic than political drama: narrated from several different perspectives, it tells the story of Daru Shezad's ill-fated affair with his best friend's wife, Mumtaz. But in a country like Pakistan, the personal and the political are difficult to separate, and as the story moves along, the divisions between gender, class, and opportunity provide a not-so-subtle commentary on the fissures that run through contemporary Pakistani society. The novel begins, tellingly, with a historical fragment about the internecine wars of succession that followed the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan (builder of the Taj Mahal):
Imprisoned in his fort at Agra, staring at the Taj he had built, an aged Shah Jahan received as a gift from his youngest son the head of his eldest. Perhaps he doubted, then, the memory that his boys had once played together, far from his supervision and years ago, in Lahore.
Jump ahead several hundred years to Lahore in the summer of 1998. Childhood playmates Daru and Ozi have just reunited again after Ozi's three-year stay in America. Glad as he is to see his old friend, Daru can't keep his eyes off of Ozi's wife, Mumtaz. "You know you're in trouble when you can't meet a woman's eye," he says. But woman trouble isn't his only problem; he's also addicted to hash, which leads to his dismissal from an upscale job as a banker. Soon Daru spirals out of control into a degraded existence on the fringes of society. Then a young boy is killed in a hit-and-run accident, and he is accused and jailed. Shah Jehan would probably recognize this age-old story of love and revenge playing out once more--this time against the backdrop of the Indian-Pakistani arms race. Hamid artfully weaves the subcontinent's tragic history into his characters' no-less-tragic present, rendering Moth Smoke a novel that resonates on many levels. --Sheila BrightWhen Daru Shezad is fired from his banking job in Lahore, he begins a decline that plummets the length of this sharply drawn, subversive tale. Before long, he can't pay his bills, and he loses his toehold among Pakistan's cell-phone-toting elite. Daru descends into drugs and dissolution, and, for good measure, he falls in love with the wife of his childhood friend and rival, Ozi-the beautiful, restless Mumtaz.Desperate to reverse his fortunes, Daru embarks on a career in crime, taking as his partner Murad Badshah, the notorious rickshaw driver, populist, and pirate. When a long-planned heist goes awry, Daru finds himself on trial for a murder he may or may not have committed. The uncertainty of his fate mirrors that of Pakistan itself, hyped on the prospect of becoming a nuclear player even as corruption drains its political will.Fast-paced and unexpected, Moth Smoke portrays a contemporary Pakistan as far more vivid and disturbing than the exoticized images of South Asia familiar to most of the West. This debut novel establishes Mohsin Hamid as a writer of substance and imagination.


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Praise for this book

"[A] brisk, absorbing novel..." - Jhumpa Lahiri


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Used availability for Mohsin Hamid's Moth Smoke

Hardback Editions

December 1998 : USA Hardback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 0-374-21354-2 / 978-0-374-21354-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

January 2013 : UK Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin (pakistan) Hamid
ISBN: 0-14-342020-8 / 978-0-14-342020-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


December 2012 : USA Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 1-59448-660-3 / 978-1-59448-660-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 2011 : UK Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 0-241-95393-6 / 978-0-241-95393-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


March 2001 : UK Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 1-86207-405-4 / 978-1-86207-405-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: Granta Books
Availability: Amazon UK   


February 2001 : USA Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 0-312-27323-1 / 978-0-312-27323-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Picador
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 0-14-029704-9 / 978-0-14-029704-1 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


March 2000 : UK Paperback
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 1-86207-314-7 / 978-1-86207-314-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Granta Books
Availability: Amazon UK   


Audio Editions

August 2018 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 1-72131-490-3 / 978-1-72131-490-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Blackstone on Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon AU   


February 2008 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Availability: Amazon CA   


July 2007 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
ISBN: 0-7927-4858-1 / 978-0-7927-4858-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Blackstone Pub
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

December 2012 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   


May 2011 : Australia, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Moth Smoke
Author(s): Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Penguin
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU