July 22, 2011 10:17 pm

Tender Hooks

A vapid heroine is charged with finding a husband for her cousin in Moni Mohsin’s sly social satire

Moni Mohsin’s comic columns for Lahore’s The Friday Times became the best-selling The Diary of a Social Butterfly, and led to her being called Pakistan’s Helen Fielding. This gleeful sequel finds vapid but good-hearted heroine, Butterfly, charged with finding a husband for Jonkers, her cousin once removed (“as if cousins were bikini lines, once removed, twice removed, hundred times removed but always there.”).

As in Jane Austen’s Emma, the prospect of finding an “illegible girl” from an “effluent bagground” offers a sop to our matchmaker’s self-importance and an insight into a world of precisely observed social distinctions. Yet, what adds bite to the whirl of wedding parties and shopping trips is the book’s depiction of a nation brought to its knees by corruption and “beirdo-weirdo” terrorists. A sly piece of social satire, it makes a pleasant change from the slightly earnest family sagas coming out of south Asia at the moment.

Tender Hooks, by Moni Mohsin, Chatto & Windus, RRP£12.99, 256 pages

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