‘Mudslinging and other short stories’ is debut book of Nauman Afzal. The stories are fictional, refreshing and pretty diverse in their nature. What I liked about this anthology is author’s simple, objective and non-judgemental storytelling style. Though the reader doesn’t find themselves in any nail-biting mystery sequence, yet they look forward to ending of the story. The dialogues between characters are nowhere intense or complicated, yet we see a range of emotions and humans just being humans.
The stories are edgy, satirical, comical and author takes constant jabs on our work ethics, social norms, “acquired values”, popular culture and so-called religious beliefs. They revolve mostly around mundane tasks, routine events, official and socially accepted way of getting our ‘jaez kaam’ done and occasionally touches the territories of romance and religious extremism.
In this book we find a talking plant, a sneak peek into life and thoughts of a pet doggo, ‘life cycle’ of important things like a ‘file’ in government offices, how ‘community service’ aka duties are done deligently, magic that ensures safety of a muslim from another muslim and discovering who really is holding up all the burden of this developing country! (This is just a teaser, there’s lot more to it)
My personal favorite stories are the show stopper ‘Peela,Peela’, ‘Tharki Uncle’ and ‘Pani Agaya’.
Few quotes from different stories which I loved absolutely.
“Now I was more confused than ever, for I did not know what the paper had in it that my tongue had failed to convey, that my actions had failed to convince, that my prayers did not show or that my words did not say.”
“The only problem was her busy schedule …. She had her schedule scattered like a painter’s palette.”
“It was a place where machinations were planned, a place where allies met to decimate opponents, where deals were made in undertones while not defying the rules of decency, a place where sugar coated words made the most of vocabulary both verbal as well as written and hence sycophancy ruled. It was the undeclared “War Room’. “
“He told them that all these ills were not because they weren’t paying taxes but because the whole system was based on interest which in fact was Haram in Islam.”
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