Author: Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi
Publisher: Random House
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Translated from the original (in Urdu), Mirages of the Mind is a witty account of life in our subcontinent in the twentieth century. The characters are well fleshed out and rather endearing with all their eccentricities – from Qibla and Mirza to Basharat and Khan Sahib. We see Kanpur in the pre-partition days; then Karachi, through the eyes of the quick-tempered and intimidating Pathan, Qibla. The 90s saw this era captured in serials and telefilms, but for the most part this cultural landscape has disappeared from public memory in the twenty-first century. Attempts like this one to translate works into English are a welcome trend.
The writing has an earthy humour that appeals. The author has elevated rambling to an art form. The style is anecdotal, but for which it could have been a tedious read at 500+ pages. Like Dave Barry or Bill Bryson, this is one of those books you read in instalments, a few pages at a time. Unlike the aforementioned where there is no plot so as to speak, here the writer introduces characters held together loosely by a narrative.
An interesting read for those who would like to gain an insight into the ethos of the time.
Find out more on this 90-year-old satirist here.