A.A. Jafri was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. He is an economist by day and a writer by night. Of Smokeless Fire is his first novel.
Djinns-the invisible beings made of smokeless fire are Allah's creations. Human beings cannot create or beget them, but whether it was a djinn or not, a rumour took birth that day that a djinn was born at the residence of Noor ul Haq, bar-at-law. So begins the story of a lifelong friendship between three unlikely children. Mansoor, the rumoured djinn, who balances his love and loyalty between his devoutly religious mother and his erudite, alcoholic father. Mehrun, the churail-a Medusa-like creature-who struggles to get an English-medium education, the elusive ticket out of poverty. And Joseph, the bhangi, a derisive name for a sweeper, who dreams of becoming a movie star as he cleans the toilets of the rich and powerful. Wearing their insults like a garland, they transgress society's norm and follow their dreams. Their lives intimately tied to the vagaries of Pakistan's politics, alternating between tragedies and triumphs. Of Smokeless Fire is a story about belonging and displacement. It is a reminder that belonging is not just about allegiance, and exile is not just physical. The novel asks the questions: Once you are ripped from your homeland, do you become homeless forever? What does it mean to live in a land that has forsaken you? Whether rooted or uprooted, is your relationship with your country conditioned by its politics?
A.A. Jafri's book focuses on the hidden ills we allow to perpetuate until the genie is very much out of the bottle.Jafri's portrayal of the salient features of post-Partition Karachi is remarkably authentic, and his writing style bespeaks a classical education that elegantly infuses the rhythms of his English prose with the type of literary grace that can only come from a long engagement and familiarity with fine books.