Duty Free

Duty Free

4.6 3
by Moni Mohsin
     
 

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Jane Austen's Emma, transported to the outrageous social melee of 21st-century Lahore.

Our plucky heroine's cousin, Jonkers, has been dumped by his low-class, slutty secretary, and our heroine has been charged with finding him a suitable wife -- a rich, fair, beautiful, old-family type. Quickly. But, between you, me and the four walls, who wants to marry poor, plain

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Overview

Jane Austen's Emma, transported to the outrageous social melee of 21st-century Lahore.

Our plucky heroine's cousin, Jonkers, has been dumped by his low-class, slutty secretary, and our heroine has been charged with finding him a suitable wife -- a rich, fair, beautiful, old-family type. Quickly. But, between you, me and the four walls, who wants to marry poor, plain, hapless Jonkers?

As our heroine social-climbs her way through weddings-sheddings, GTs (get togethers, of course) and ladies' lunches trying to find a suitable girl from the right bagground, she discovers to her dismay that her cousin has his own ideas about his perfect mate. And secretly, she may even agree.

Full of wit and wickedness and as clever as its heroine is clueless, Duty Free is a delightful romp through Pakistani high society -- though, even as it makes you cry with laughter, it makes you wince at the gulf between our heroine's glitteringly shallow life and the country that is falling apart, day by day, around her Louboutin-clad feet. Moni Mohsin, already a huge bestseller in India, has been hailed as a modern-day Jane Austen, and compared to Nancy Mitford and Helen Fielding. Duty Free is social satire at its biting best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The lady of the house is a social-climbing shopaholic, yapping yenta, and mistress of malapropism, but her hilarious and unsettling story unfolds not in Manhattan but in Lahore, Pakistan—a land of Taliban "beardo-weirdos," shifting social mores, and a growing middle class. Mohsin's first novel to be published in America offers biting social satire—a news ticker runs atop each page with increasingly bloody and startling news-of-the-day—and a tale of redemption, gently skewering her vacuous heroine as she transforms from elitist snob to social maverick. The evolution unfolds as the Social Butterfly is commissioned by her manipulative aunt to play matchmaker for shy, divorced cousin Jonkers. But with just two months to get him hitched to a woman with a fab "bagground," she invariably comes up with all the wrong choices: lesbian Tanya, and Tasbeeh, divorced daughter of a drug-smuggler. In the end, though, Jonkers just may find love all by himself. Mohsin writes firecracker prose and crafts a blazing voice for her Prada-mad heroine, a snappy vixen-type readers will recognize instantly, even if she's never got a cosmo in her hand. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Achingly funny, touching, and fizzing with intelligence, this book will have you laughing out loud even as you fear for the state of world politics." – Tash Aw, author of The Harmony Silk Factory

"Moni Mohsin is one of the funniest and sharpest satirists writing anywhere in the world today -- she can make you laugh out loud even while she delivers hard-hitting critiques of Lahore high society and the state of Pakistani politics." — Kamila Shamsie

"This is a wildly entertaining book but, beware, it also bites."
— Neel Mukherjee

“Refreshing, humorous, irreverent, and satirical, Moni Mohsin’s Duty Free  is more than a boy-meets-girl story. It is an insightful social commentary.” – Bharti Kirchner, author of Darjeeling

"A delicious bon-bon of a book, skewering Pakistani society. Great good fun." – Daniyal Mueenuddin, author of In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

"Achingly funny, touching, and fizzing with intelligence, this book will have you laughing out loud even as you fear for the state of world politics." – Tash Aw, author of The Harmony Silk Factory

"Refreshing, humorous, irreverent, and satirical, Moni Mohsin’s Duty Free is more than a boy-meets-girl story. It is an insightful social commentary." --Bharti Kirchner, author of Darjeeling

"A deliciously funny book starring a clueless socialite heroine with inner savvy and a heart of gold. While this sharp, hilarious spoof of upper class life is set against a backdrop of political unrest in Lahore, Pakistan, Moni Mohsin's lively, witty satire will appeal to a wide readership." – Anjali Banerjee, author of Haunting Jasmine

"Hilarious self-absorption and malapropisms...make the author's American debut worth reading." --Clarissa Cruz, People 

"Witty, bright, charming and wise, Duty Free is a delightful find." --K.C. Martin, Shelf Awareness

Kirkus Reviews

In Pakistan-born, London-resident Mohsin's U.S. debut, an affluent Lahore housewife reluctantly seeks a suitable bride for her nerdy cousin Jonkers.

Really, it was mean of her Aunty Pussy to pressure our unnamed narrator into helping with this daunting task. Sure, the family has plenty of money, thanks to Uncle Kaukab's stint as "chief of central board of revenew" in the '80s, but Aunt Pussy wants Jonkers "to make a big marriage,na,to a nice rich, fair, beautiful type from an old family." He wants to marry for love and actually asks his cousin if she is happily wed. Well of course! Husband Janoo may spend a lot of time in "his bore village" and seem disappointed that his empty-headed spouse displays no shred of social conscience or glimmer of intellect as Pakistan goes to pieces in late 2009. What does she care? She has "a big house, servants, social life, status, cars, cupboards full of designerjorasand jewellery, and so on and so fourth." If only the "beardo-weirdos" would quit setting off bombs and threatening girls' schools, she could seriously enjoy shopping and hanging out with her equally status-conscious girlfriends. Our heroine's solipsistic diary entries aren't quite as hilarious as the author imagines, though her mix of Urdu and English filled with misspellings and malapropisms gives a tangy sense of her semi-educated, privileged mindset. Readers may not feel terrible when the narrator and a friend are robbed at gunpoint as they're having "a good old goss" in her car while a servant buys them fruit. But just as we're about to write her off, she proves to have a heart and decides to defend the hardworking travel agent Jonkers has fallen for against snobbish Aunty Pussy. Her discovery of an ethical core is a trifle sudden, but Mohsin's tale is good-natured enough so that we're happy it ends with a wedding and reconciliations all around.

A zesty South Asian accent gives this lightweight romp some heft.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307889249
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
09/06/2011
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.56(d)

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