Book Review: Call Me Al: The Hero’s Ha-Ha Journey


Author: Sheheryar B. Sheikh

Genre: Political Satire

Pages: 294

Purchase At: Call Me Al: The Hero’s Ha-Ha Journey

Synopsis: Altamaash the entertainer misstepped on to history’s stage to become a politician and created a lifetime’s worth of chaos and destruction in Pakistan. Now exiled to a London mansion, abandoned even by sycophants, Al yearns to relive the glory days of his rise to power. But the old guard has passed, and the colonial hangover in his home country has almost disappeared. Democracy is taking root, and with it is coming a fragile stability to the Third World. In these times Al’s desire for doing his best – what’s worst for the rest of us – flows into two acts of massive evil: one double-murder that shakes his own complacent party back to full attention; and a countrywide riot – the biggest the world has ever witnessed. All this Al orchestrates while perched luxuriously in exile in the UK. Woe to the day when he returns to claim the bloodstained crown. But cometh the hour, cometh the man! Sheheryar B. Sheikh’s new novel is a ripping rollercoaster ride through shenanigans of subcontinental politics, and it will keep you riveted.

My Take:

Pros: This book is unlike any political satire I have ever read. The author has packed meaning into words in a way that makes the book totally unique. He has attempted to write the book differently and I must say he has succeeded to a large extent. The approach is new. Normally in satires, we expect a lot of double meaning dialogues and puns, and though these are present, this book by and large takes a different route. The book includes certain special portions where discussions between people and angels in the afterlife are included. I loved these crisp and refreshing discussions interspersed throughout the book. The book is subtle in the sense that the plotline is not laid threadbare and the story is gently and subtly revealed to the reader. As we read the book we get increasingly involved in the plot. Al’s character is portrayed very ably, and we can understand the motivation involved in his deeds.  

Cons: The timeline is a bit confusing. The events in Al’s life are revealed in a jumbled manner and the reader is left with the task of keeping track of the sequence of events. Some parts of the book, especially the portions written in the first person are confusingly described. Certain portions of the book are extremely crude and revolting and make the reader’s stomach churn. It would have been much better if the author had omitted these portions. The ending of came as a rude shock, but I think one has to excuse the author for this as a final punchline is needed and this one is good enough.

Conclusion: I would recommend this book for people who like a literary touch in the books they read. This book differs from the usual political satire full of puns and double meaning dialogues. It is refreshingly different.

Rating: I am going with a 3/5 for ‘CALL ME AL THE HERO’S HA-HA JOURNEY’

Rating Scale:

                   1 – Poor

                   2 – Fair

                   3 – Good

                   4 – Excellent

                   5 – Outstanding

This review has been written as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.