Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Goodbye Freddie Mercury by Nadia Akbar - Book Review

When I read the synopsis of 'Goodbye Freddie Mercury', it intrigued me. I haven't read many (maybe not any) book based in Pakistan. Afghanistan and other countries yes, there are authors like Khalid Hosseini to thank for that. This book took me by surprise, and how!

Let's talk about the cover illustration first - it's eye-catchy! A hard bound version in striking pink and yellow - anyone who saw the book in my hand or at my desk stops to see the name and admire the cover. Showing both the lead characters - Nida & Bugsy along with a lot of trippiness going on, I guess that's how it is for the druggies in the story. The book itself is written very interestingly - in a dual narration. Half from Nida's point of view and the other half from Bugsy's point of view. I think it's a challenge to change the thought process and style of narration within the same book - but the author has done that well.


Upon reading the book, I feel like a new-comer, unknown person looking into the neighbouring country for the very first time. Whatever I have known till now is from the news, or the cricket team or whatever social media feeds to my ears or eyes. But the life of the people - the stark difference between the rich and not so rich, the language, the lifestyle - is so fascinating.

There is this part where the author talks about how everyone in Lahore shops. Shops to forget their pain, shops to feel happy for some time, shops to forget they are poor or oppressed and so on. It's beautifully written and I somehow feel a lot of us in India are like that too. Maybe, just maybe, we're not all that different?

I personally haven't had a youth like this - with partying, drinking, going out all the time, smoking and so on. Infact didn't even have friends who had such a lifestyle. So it's all mysterious for me - and I guess common for today's generation and youth, unfortunately. I do hope noone tries to adapt such a culture - it shouldn't be promoted and made to look so easily accessible and fun - I personally feel.

Though it's 330+ pages, it doesn't get boring at all - right from the beginning till the end - you just want to keep turning the pages and knowing what happens next. Would definitely read other books by the author in the future.

About Goodbye Freddie Mercury:

Lahore is burning. General elections are right around the corner. The summer city rages with the drug-fuelled parties of the oblivious, the rich and famous, while campaign posters and rally cries dominate the airwaves.

Bugsy, rock RJ, and host of the nation's top English radio show is young and fabulous. Seeking more than wealth, fame and prestige, he performs a dangerous favor for an old friend that plunges him into the dark recesses of desi politics. Nida, a young college student desperate to escape the oppressive atmosphere of her traditional family home and her conservative college, still mourning the death of her brother, throws herself recklessly into the drug-addled arms of Omer Ali, son of the prime minister's right-hand man. As Nida spirals into decadence and Bugsy descends into darkness, their paths cross and sparks begin to fly.

Nadia Akbar's audacious debut has all the makings of a cult novel-parties, drugs, mysteries, love triangles, political intrigue and power struggles-but its lush, sexy writing has the assuredness and precision of the acutest style of our time. Told in alternating voices and brimming with sharp observation, Goodbye Freddie Mercury hits the rocks and trails atwist.



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