Author(s): Mohammed Hanif
The patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital for All Ailments are looking for a miracle, and Alice Bhatti is looking for a job.
The story begins with Alice’s interview for the position of junior nurse, grade 4. Alice is no ordinary applicant. It is only a few weeks since her release from Borstal. She has returned to her childhood home in the French Colony, where her father continues his work as chief janitor and part-time healer. It seems she has inherited his gift.With the implementation of the working nurse’s manual, a bit of inspired improvisation and some help from Lord Yassoo (Jesus), Alice brings succour to the thousands of patients littering the hospital’s corridors and concrete courtyards – provoking the jealousies of her fellow nurses, and firing the imaginations of the male staff in the process. Not least young Noor, a former cellmate, now notary at the hospital; nor Teddy Bunt, amateur bodybuilder and apprentice to the nefarious ‘Gentleman Squad’ of the Karachi police.
It seems Alice’s troubles are far from over. A Christian in an Islamic world, caught in the red tape of hospital bureaucracy and trapped by the strict caste system, torn between her duty to her patients, to her husband and to her father, Alice finds that her new life is built on foundations as unstable as those of her new home. When a suspect goes missing on his watch, Teddy plunges them both into a danger that perhaps not even a miracle can save them from. But then again, Alice Bhatti is no ordinary nurse...
Filled with wit, colour and pathos, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a glorious story of second chances, thwarted ambitions and love in unlikely places, set in the febrile streets of downtown Karachi. It is the remarkable new novel from the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes
Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan, in 1965. He graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer, but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. He has written plays for the stage and BBC radio, and his film The Long Night has been shown at film festivals around the world. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009. He is currently head of the BBC’s Urdu Service and lives in London.