Mohammed Hanif

Portrait Mohammed Hanif
© Hartwig Klappert

Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan, in 1965. He graduated from the Pakistan Air Force Academy and then worked as a pilot for the Air Force. After a few years in the military, he decided to change professions and embarked on a career as a journalist and writer. Hanif moved to London with his family in the late 1990s. There he worked for the BBC, wrote articles for the “Guardian” and the “New York Times” as well as his own literary works. Several plays and the screenplay for the film “The Long Night” (directed by Raat Chali Hai Jhoom Ke) were written in London. The author also completed the renowned Creative Writing Program at the University of East Anglia in the English capital.

In 2008, his debut novel “A Case of Exploding Mangos” (2008; Eng. “A Box of Exploding Mangos,” 2009) was published, with which Hanif abruptly became an international bestselling author. In his satirical examination of the still unsolved plane crash of August 17, 1988, in which Pakistani military dictator Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, several high-ranking generals and a U.S. ambassador were killed, he delivers a fast-paced, witty and at the same time relentless analysis of patriarchal power systems with all their struggles and intrigues. Hanif, who has been living back in Pakistan since the end of 2008, where he works as a BBC correspondent in Karachi, has been celebrated by critics both for his perceptive, socially analytical eye and for his outstanding narrative qualities: “He concentrates with gleeful scorn on the fine-tuning of political detail and on the sly irony of his dialogues – this author is a virtuoso of perfidious, ambiguous inflections” (“Frankfurter Rundschau”). In “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” (2011; Engl. “Alice Bhatti’s Ascension,” 2012), Hanif humorously yet powerfully denounces a society in which misogyny, religious fanaticism, and violence are the order of the day. Set in the ramshackle, hopelessly overcrowded Sacred Heart Hospital in Karachi, an unusual love story develops between Catholic nurse Alice Bhatti and Muslim police officer Teddy Butt, who works for the notoriously brutal Gentleman Corps.

Mohammed Hanif has received numerous awards, including the Corine Literature Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Debut, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award for “A Case of Exploding Mangos,” and for the Welcome Trust Book Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.” In 2013, Hanif wrote a report commissioned by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on dissidents whose trail was lost in Balochistan. The author lives in Karachi.