Moth Smoke : A Novel is, I think, Mohsin Hamid’s first book. It is a tale of an educated middle-class guy Dara Shikoh1 who goes from a banker to a drug addict and criminal. It is a story about drugs, sex, corruption and betrayal.
Mohsin Hamid writes well and could become a great Pakistani author of fiction in English. However, in Moth Smoke, his characters lack some complexity. They are more one-dimensional than I would like. Mohsin does present parts of the story from the point of view of the different characters, but that doesn’t work as well as it should.
What this novel is not is a documentary of Pakistani urban life. Some reviewers on Amazon think this novel will provide them an insight into Pakistan. No single book, fiction, or non-fiction, can do that. The book certainly does show a side of Pakistan: drugs, sex and corruption among the elite, for example. However, it is a work of fiction and should be taken as such.
Here are a few other reviews:
1 Yes, most of the major characters are named after the Mughals, specifically the sons of Shah Jehan: Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb, Murad and Shuja. There are also Mumtaz and Khurram.