Hell! No Saints in Paradise
Author: A.K. Asif
Publication: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Blurb (as on Goodreads):
2050, New York. In the aftermath of a grueling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters into an alliance with spiritual beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government, and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission? Hell! No Saints in Paradise is both biting satire and allegory that takes urban fantasy to dizzying heights.
It’s all Within. The Whole Cosmos.
Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, is pursuing his P.hd on the truth behind the existence of heaven and hell. One fine day he meets a girl who advises him to join an elite Yage Yoga Centre, known for its powerful and mind-clarifying Ayahuasca, straight from the Amazons. Ismael undergoes a strange transformation and finds out fate has chosen him for a task which also intersects with his sole purpose in life- disproving the existence of heaven and hell.
Ismal is asked (by these outworldly beings) to visit Lahore, his birth-place and pose as a true believer in front of his Extremist father, this being the most crucial step in his ‘mission’. He is also promised to be given help regarding his understanding of Heaven and Hell.
Hell! No Saints in Paradise is an allegory and had clearly outlined the power religion holds over people and the havoc it can cause if placed in wrong hands. Set in Lahore, Pakistan, the story gives you a handful of people, who are staunch believers of Islam and would do anything to reach Paradise. They are constantly on the hunt for people who are failing the religion one way or the other because eliminating such people is supposed to give them a place in paradise.
There’s a hint of satire and mockery is situations that are both bizarre and creepy, which is a welcoming sight as the plot tends to get extremely serious at times. There are facts from the Holy Quran focussing on the theme of life after death and the different ways people interpret it for their own satisfaction. It’s a fast-paced read and the writing is crisp and clear. So is the message. Arabic/ Urdu words taken from the Holy Quran have been explained in simple terms
This is one book which should be read without any thoughts or deductions(at least, initially). Everything is explained in due time. I liked the fact that I could never decide when to stop. Each chapter has its own set of revelations and cliffhangers
Thrilling, bizarre, realistic and entertaining, a book that talks about the manifestation of religion over logic and humanity and the trauma of living in such a society.
Once in a while, we get to read a book that is so different yet so rational. Hell! No Saints in Paradise is one such read. You wouldn’t wanna miss this ride through time.
Recommend me some more books based on this theme?