Rating: 4.5 Stars
Omar Shahid Hamid is a Pakistani author who I rate very highly. If you want to read about the real Karachi, then his books are the ones you should pick up. Of course, his books show the underbelly of this multi-layered, multi-cultural city, and are only reflective of the shady side of things, but no one is more qualified than Hamid to give a realistic view of this side of the city. He is a real police officer who has seen all this and more, up close and personal.
The Party Worker is a work of fiction, like all Hamid’s other books, but those who have seen the Karachi of the 1990’s and 2000’s will know that this fiction is actually a very thinly veiled dig at some very real players in the political scene of that era. There is more than a grain of truth in almost all the incidents mentioned here. Most of these will chill you to the bone.
Despite my high rating and praise for this book, it’s not for the faint of heart, for it shows the brutality and lawlessness prevalent at that time, making some things very hard to digest. It might be upsetting for the reader, but while many incidents really are a work of fiction, the most cruel and senseless ones are not. A certain football match in Lyari comes to mind.
As a die-hard Karachiite, it is not easy to recommend a book that shows my city in a less than favorable light, but it shows the real face of politics, of what power and money can do to people, of how people are willing to go to any lengths to gain that power and money.
It also shows how Karachi is a melting pot of ethnicities, all vying for their share of the pie. Karachi is a real character in this book, a thriving metropolis that makes everyone want to rule it, because whoever rules this city, controls the largest chunk of the country’s economy. It is like a siren’s call, with people willing to kill and die just to own a part of this sprawling city.
It was a struggle to write all this without actually giving away the plot of the book, but it all starts in New York, and culminates in this city of dreams and lights, that is the economic hub of Pakistan. A must read for fans of political intrigue and secret plans, who are not squeamish about a little (read: a lot of!) blood and gore. Oh, and that ending is not really that unbelievable, if you really think about it!