The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack

H.M. Naqvi. Grove/Black Cat, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2894-2
Naqvi’s second novel (after Homeboy) is an uproariously funny, poignant family saga told by a glib septuagenarian contemplating life in his beloved city of Karachi. Once manager of his father’s Hotel Olympus, the philosophical Abdullah, nicknamed “Cossack” because he once outdrank a contingent of visiting Russians, now lives, overweight and diabetic, in the upstairs quarters of a crumbling family house shared with his brother Babu’s family. Beloved uncle of the “Childoos” downstairs, and fancying himself a phenomenologist, Abdullah is nevertheless seen by the majority of his relatives as profligate and irresponsible. Things go treacherously haywire after he’s rescued from thugs in the street by a mysterious lady named Jugnu, and his old friend, a jazz musician dubbed “the Caliph of Cool,” asks him to act as guardian for his grandson Bosco. It so happens that both Jugnu and Bosco’s family are in danger from the Karachi mob. As threats mount, including from Abdullah’s own family, who are pressuring him to give up the title deed to the house so they can sell it, the nostalgic, courageous Abdullah comes up with a scheme to save everyone. Touching on the metaphysical, the moral, and the absurd, this bawdy epic is a fresh-voiced testament to place, family, and the importance of loyalty. Agent: Pande Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/10/2019
Release date: 03/12/2019
Genre: Fiction
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