Intense yet chilling, this brilliant first novel is a meditation on power, greed and the human cost of politics. – Penguin Books India
An intense, engrossing tale told with the fluid pacing of a born storyteller, this astonishing novel is also animated by humour as dark as the iconic outerwear that gives the book its title. The tortured origins of modern Bangladesh are brought to life vividly, yet with subtle strokes. They provide a poignant backdrop to a central drama that Dostoyevsky and Kafka would have recognised and applauded, yet which is all Neamat Imam’s own. – Periscope
In the aftermath of Bangladesh’s bloody war of independence in 1971, as thousands of impoverished migrants from the countryside flood the capital, journalist Khaleque Biswas begins to feel the stirrings of disillusionment. The revolutionary spirit that had filled the air and united the people under the leadership of Sheikh Mujib, the “Father of the Nation”, seems to be dissipating. The government’s response to the crisis is inadequate, and its slow slide into political corruption seems inevitable. Uncompromising and undiplomatic, Khaleque loses his job. Then Nur Hussain turns up: a simple young man from a remote village, his welfare has been entrusted to Khaleque by a passing acquaintance. Unable to turn Nur away, Khaleque sets out to secure him a job, but eventually discovers that the placid young man has no skills whatsoever, nor much ambition. He seems adept only at imitating Sheikh Mujib, to whom he bears some resemblance. Khaleque, now desperate himself, further transforms Nur into a perfect Sheikh Mujib lookalike and instructs him in delivering a famous speech of the prime minister’s, very persuasively. Then he puts him to work in the streets of Dhaka. Quickly, Nur becomes a celebrity; the ebbing political convictions of the masses are aroused for as long as he stays in character, and he and Khaleque are amply rewarded with donations, plaudits – and soon a visit from the approving government authorities, who perceive a certain usefulness in the impersonation. However, when Nur proves less pliable and more passionate than Khaleque had imagined – and worse, begins to improvise in his carefully scripted role – a violent series of events is set in motion.