Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif is a satirical take on the US Foreign Policy. The book was first published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2018. The story is set in the post 9/11 Middle East/Central-South Asia. A teenaged refugee, his pet dog and a US war pilot narrate the story, which encapsulates the absurdities of war, and it's aftermath.
A US pilot, Major Ellie, crash lands in a desert camp and finds refuge in the same camp that he was originally supposed to bomb. Within the camp, a teenaged lad, Momo, is waiting for his elder brother, Bro Ali's, return. Bro Ali vanished following a mysterious transaction with American occupants of the nearby "Hangar".
Besides, Momo is plotting to amass wealth as quickly and smartly as possible. The boys parents are at loggerheads with each other. Meanwhile, Momo's pet dog, Mutt, is least impressed with the current situation at the camp.
A standout character is "Lady Flower body", a keen USAID consultant that aims to study the "teenage Muslim mind". As with every other of Mohammed Hanif's books, there are many relatable and quotable passages. The narrative sheds light on some of the local viewpoints regarding such foreign surveyors and studies. "First they bomb us from the skies, then they work hard to cure our stress..."
The Red Birds, laced with the author's quintessential wit, is an exacting critique of the US policies towards the region post 9/11.
A lecturer and lifestyle consultant by the day; an avid reader and writer by the night, I am a student of life.