Vanity Bagh

Title: Vanity Bagh
Author: Anees Salim
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
Genre: Fiction

Vanity Bagh is a fictional place clearly mentioned as ‘tiny Pakistan’ in Mangobagh with Mehendi – quite analogues to India – as neighborhood. 

Imran Jabbari, accused mastermind of a terrorist plot that shook Mehendi with three scooter bombs, is spending his time in jail, recounting the memory of his hometown Vanity Bagh. The places, the people, their fears, hopes and anxiety. Imran’s plans of escape, his delusions and self-amusing nature make him a great narrator. Also, dispersed tactfully are anecdotes from his friends, foes and strangers, which complete this novel of delicious rendezvous.

Seeing from a distance this book can be labeled as a biography of a young, unemployed Muslim from Pakistan trying to make his stand, expressing his views on India and the rift between two countries, and how it is destroying his life. Where violence has become a routine of our life and nobody feels uncomfortable if accused terrorist is a Muslim, truth is: everyone is caged, on both sides of the boundary. Blinded by hypocritical media, misguided society and deceiving politicians that rule our life.

When I took this book in my hands for the first time, it reminded me of Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan and Ruskin Bond’s A Fight of Pigeons; and one might relate the background. But, the infused dark humor makes it a completely different book I ever came across. Don’t get confused; the stated dark humor doesn’t resemble to that of Christopher Moore (who is the master of this genre IMO), but more to Christopher Buckley and Donald E. Westlake. Noir, subtle and pungent.

Rarely come a book with such story and characters that breaks the conventional approach and writing that redefines tradition. This is one of those books. The way Anees Salim molded this world of Vanity Bagh makes the reader stare in awe. Another best part of this book is that the author never preaches. And the way humor is blended, reader never loses the grip of the characters or maybe it’s the other way around. 

One of the most inspiring books in the latest releases of modern fiction. A highly recommended book for anyone who wants to read something worthwhile.

Rating: 5/5 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher for reviewing purpose. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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