Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview with Mohammed Hanif

Mohammed Hanif is a Pakistani author who wrote the much acclaimed book A Case of Exploding Mangoes which was published in 2008. The Palestine Writing Workshop hosted him last month as their latest writer in residence, where he taught a workshop "Writing from Life". It took a bit of bribing, but he agreed to a quick interview, showcasing his generous philanthropic self.

*Tell us a little bit about your book, "A Case of Exploding Mangoes"
It has 304 pages. It’s a love story. It is a dictator novel. It contains some jokes and one very tasteful sex scene.

* What influenced you to become a writer?

I tried becoming a farmer, it was difficult and dull at the same time. So I became a writer.

* How has your time in the air force affected your work?

Yes. It has ruined my punctuation.

* Did you always want to write, even during your childhood?

No, I wanted to become a spiritual guru, then an astronaut, then a fighter pilot, then a cricketer, then a rock star but never a writer.

* Going with the stereotype that novelists are usually egotistical, how do you feel about your own work?

As some one said accusing a novelist of having a big ego is like accusing a boxer of having violent tendencies. But trust me the process of writing itself is a very humbling experience.

* What made you want to come to Palestine to give this workshop?

Because they asked me. Because I had visited Palestine a decade ago and wanted to return. And may be as one of the workshop participants pointed out, I just wanted to look cool.

* Who are your favorite authors, and why?

Chekov. Because he turns the very ordinary stuff of life into compelling stories.

Best Year/Age in you life?
Twenty three. First job, own apartment.

Writing or reading?

Coffee or tea?
Coffee when I'm writing, so tea mostly.

All time favorite book:
Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Your impression of Ramallah in up to five words:
Cafe society. Road works.

Advice to Palestinian youth:

Reading books doesn't turn you into a wimp.

Advice to the young soldiers in the IDF:

Oy, put that gun away and go back to school wherever in Ohio that is.

One state or two state solution?
One state.

Who would win in a fight, Hitler or Netanyahu?
Netanyahu because he has the benefit of hindsight, might have learnt from the other guy's mistakes.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To be able to write without using adverbs.

Who would you like to invite to a dinner party?
Truman Capote and Dr. Aiman Al-Zawahiri.

Finally, tell us a joke.
Jordanian Immigration to me: You name is Mohammed and you can’t speak Arabic?

Israeli Immigration: Can yu really teach people how to write?


  1. Great as always Hanif sahib.. Just love u..!

    A Sindhi fan from France

  2. Can't wait to read your book.