Top Quotes from Moni Mohsin’s Book Launch
Pakistani author Moni Mohsin launched her new book, ‘The Impeccable Integrity of Ruby R.’ at The Last Word Bookstore in late November 2022. Previously known for her ‘Diary of a Social Butterfly’ series, Mohsin now took on a more charged role in penning down her latest book following the protagonist trying to navigate and claim her female power in the realm of desi male privilege, entitlement, fame and power.
Ruby Rauf is an idealistic, industrious scholarship student with a fixed plan. She is going to ace her exams and get a decent job so she never has to suffer the daily degradation of poverty again. Yet, when she meets the compelling actor-turned-politician Saif Haq, her world is upended. Dazzled by his charisma, inspired by his zeal, she quits her degree midway to join his campaign as his social media manager. Ruby soon discovers that politics, even with a leader as upright as Saif Haq, is a moral minefield. Diligent, sincere but desperately naïve, Ruby longs to do the right thing but struggles at first to square her innate integrity with the difficult choices her job demands. As she wades deeper into the quagmire of political intrigue and the savage world of social media, her values grow more flexible, her methods more ruthless. She out-thinks allies and rivals to deliver brilliant results. Resented and admired by her colleagues, favoured by Saif, Ruby appears unstoppable – until one day when Saif asks her to prove her loyalty by making the most painful sacrifice of all.
During the book launch, Moni Mohsin and Mina Malik dived into a very enlightening and important conversation about the life of a woman in Pakistan, the inherent privileges a man is accustomed to and the negative impact social media plays in our society. Below are the top quotes from that important conversation should you have missed it:
On Social Media Facades
“The genesis for this book came about in 2016. I remember watching TV and watching Trump say what he did to those women. At the same time Harvey Weinstein happened, the whole exposé and the ‘Me Too’ movement was on the rise. I thought about Monica Lewinski and Clinton. I thought I wanted to write a book about a young woman and a powerful man and how he can manipulate this woman. Social media is a funny thing: it’s a facade you put out and there is none the wiser. People in America thought they knew Trump because he hosted the show, ‘The Apprentice’, but they only knew the charismatic side he put out. On social media you follow (these populist leaders) and you feel you have a relationship with them but you don’t. This was one of the inspirations for (her) book.”
“People can be cruel, and they’re more cruel to women than men. If a woman makes a mistake she will not only not be forgiven she will be made an example of. Her own gender who is supposed to support her, will be the first ones to attack on her piety, virtue or honour. She is exiled or caste out, while men get off scot free. There is a scene early on in the book where the characters of Ruby and Saif are in a restaurant when the latter scoffs and says, ‘What? You expect me to pay (the bill)?’ That is a very clear metaphor for people so buried in their entitlement that they cannot see past it – people who never have to pay for their actions.”
“That is how populism works – Either you’re a traitor or a patriot and if you don’t think the same way as the perceived wisdom then you’re a traitor. There is no middle ground. It’s like ‘either you’re with me or against me’. Even if you want to occupy the middle ground you’ll be slapped to one side. In populism, there is no middle ground. The people who are operating on the binary are very intelligent because they’re manipulating everyone. It’s the followers who lack the intelligence to think for themselves – think the sheep and the shepherd. Not to scare you here! (The book) is satirical but it isn’t a lighthearted book.”
“(The characters) Farah and Ruby are very old friends. Farah is like Ruby’s conscience, like a guiding light. Farah also ends up in the line of fire but she ends up there for the right reasons and she can hold her head up high. Patriarchy makes us all targets, I don’t want to say victims because we do have some agency, we do have choices but they are hard choices. We can still live life with some integrity but it is hard, and it times seems impossible given the lack of support, but we can do so all the same.”
On Female Power
“Women can access power through their husbands but it is never your own power. It is never the same as having your own money. I had a very interesting conversation some time ago and we concluded that there are two kinds of politics: Politics with a big P and politics with a small p. The former is what you watch on the news and that which is the governing body elected for the betterment of the country. Politics with a small p is when you come from a conservative family and your daughter says, ‘I want to be a pharmacist’ and the mother says ‘I’ll help you’. It’s about the little things that end up making someone’s life better. It’s about choices on a much smaller scale but that which have a big impact. Women make huge changes every day in the small choices. Like Safina opening a publishing house haha!”
The Impeccable Integrity of Ruby R. is now available in bookstores across Pakistan!