By Saba Imtiaz. Grade C
Saba Imtiaz’s debut is classic chick-lit – and I do not mean that as a compliment. Complete with a chronically single woman who drinks too much and has a career that refuses to take off, a gorgeous-but-platonic best friend AND a cat, this book should be titled If Bridget Jones Had Been Written in Pakistan.
Mohammed Hanif says: “Racey, pacey and laugh-out-loud funny. A Murree beer-soaked love letter to Karachi and journalism.”Ayesha is a twenty-something reporter in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Her assignments range from showing up at bomb sites and picking her way through scattered body parts to interviewing her boss’s niece, the couture-cupcake designer. In between dicing with death and absurdity, Ayesha despairs over ever meeting a nice guy, someone like her old friend Saad, whose shoulder she cries on after every romantic misadventure. Her choices seem limited to narcissistic, adrenaline-chasing reporters who’ll do anything to get their next story – to the spoilt offspring of the Karachi elite who’ll do anything to cure their boredom. Her more pressing problem, however, is how to straighten her hair during the chronic power outages.
Karachi, You’re Killing Me! is Bridget Jones’s Diary meets The Diary of a Social Butterfly – a comedy of manners in a city with none.
Ayesha is a journalist working her ass off among slimy, smarmy masochists in Karachi, and has been waiting for her big break for quite a while now. Her love life is in the bin, and at 28, her colleagues and friends are rising and shining in their respective careers, while the only relationship she has is with her bootlegger. Things start looking up when she bumps into the gorgeous gora and CNN reporter Jamie. His interest in her causes much anxiety and butterflies (it’s been two hours! Why hasn’t he called yet? Is he not as into me as I’d thought? But he said he was. Should I call him? But I don’t want to appear too clingy. WHY HASN’T HE CALLED YET? *Checks phone some more, stalks him on social media, thinks of dropping by his hotel room on some pretext*)
Difficult to imagine a ‘successful, smart and independent’ twenty eight year old woman – or even anyone out of their teenage – being this tied up over a gorgeous face she has met once. The protagonist more than once came across as a self-obsessed whiny sixteen year old playing grown up. The first half is filled with cribbing about everything – Karachi, the lack of sex, the poor liquor, her job, her cat, even detailed comments about the sucky weather. When it finally looks like she is about to get her big break and is trailing a story, she can’t resist bragging and talks about it with fellow journalist Jamie, who later steals it and is showered with limelight. Thus, another cliche is added to the mix. The female chasing after the gorgeous-but-evil man while the right one has been there in front of her all along. Of course, everything neatly ties up in the last couple of pages and the book closes with Ayesha having found the love of her life and a great career.
Yawn. The writing style is what kept me turning the pages. Acerbic, sharp and witty, even if it came across as trying-too-hard in some places. A little originality would have done wonders, and here’s hoping Imtiaz strikes gold the next time.
Final verdict: good for a couple of laughs but that’s all.
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