A Bowlful of Butterflies by Ritu Lalit
A Bowlful of Butterflies by Ritu Lalit is written with teenage charm and at the beginning I will suggest to read it; reasons being – it is cute (okay, it is a girl’s way to describe!); it reminds you of your teenage days and all you people who have siblings will relate to the book, once in a while we all have fought with them, shed tears with each other, tried hurting them etc. but at the end of day we just hang out together because they are the best people available out there!
The story is set in NCR region for a change and it is not so and so NRI visiting India or something like that. The story is about Chandni who is appearing for her class 12 boards with her two best friends Amrit and Soma. Readers’ will see the world through Chandu aka Chandni; what is her relationship with her friends, what happens when her friend starts seeing her cousin Jogi, the jealousy pangs; Chandu’s two elder brothers – Vicky and Vinni; the antics done by these boys.
Chandu’s world revolves round the home, school and her family and the sleepy town of Majhi Nagar. Her world goes topsy-turvy when her cousin Jogi arrives to stay with them for couple of days before he gets the room in the Enginnering College. She, Vinni and Jogi spy on Vicky and realize that he is gay and then one fine day Vicky leaves home because he wants to become a singer and he is participating in the reality contest. Admist of all, Jogi and Amrit become a couple, Soma has her own problems, Jogi’s parents are separating, his father is seeing someone and so on and so forth. Each chapter is defined, short and crisp. There is melodrama, fun, fight, love, hate….all emotions outlined clearly. Slowly, Chandu realizes her calling in life, even finds love in Avni, a guy who is 25; thankfully he also falls in love with her
As a first time book writer, there is refreshing feel to the book, no unnecessary love scenes thrown in; there is a light – hearted feel to it. It is a transition story of Chandni – a teenage girl to womanhood.
Ginger Chai verdict – Please read it, it is a sweet and cute book.
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GORA by Rabindranath Tagore
“Today I am Bharatiya. Within me there is no conflict between communities, whether Hindu, Muslim or Krishtan. Today all the castes of Bharat are my caste…” is the ultimate realization that strikes Gora, the central character of Tagore’s novel by the same name. Sadly, even after a century past this novel, how far-fetching such an understanding within us seems!
Gora is the largest and the most complex of the 12 novels written by Rabindranath Tagore. Undoubtedly a classic, this epic debates a number of issues and concerns that seem contemporary even today and easily applicable to the current scenario of our country. This book is a reflection and analysis of the multifarious social life in colonial India. It is about variations in one’s own beliefs as a result of changing times, society and its manifold influences on the people, their thinking, ideologies and philosophies, and in the process, an overall transformation seen and sensed within an individual and the society in general.
Gora is a story set in the disruptive times when the Bengali society in Kolikata (Calcutta) was starkly divided into the traditional orthodox Hindus and the modernized liberal thinking Brahmos – indoctrinated by the Brahma Samaj. The Hindus unfailingly followed and took pride in their renascent practices and ceremonials while the Brahmos were in constant clashes with orthodoxy and vehemently opposed all idol-worship, caste system etc. Yet both communities were not devoid of their own hypocrisies, contradictions and flaws. These were also the times when the English education had become more acceptable across the society and the intellectual awareness amongst the the youth was at rise.
Pitted against such a social background are numerous characters each of which is unique and strongly individualistic. In fact, it’s through these various characters and their stories that Tagore looms upon almost every single concern of the society mainly the religious narrow-mindedness. Hence the novel is woven with several sub-plots, intermediary stories and events which, though sometime seem to meander away from the main theme, add on to the beauty of the story.
Gora, the protagonist, is a strong advocate of Hinduism and practices his religion with high regards, thorough conviction and strict austerity. He is a natural leader with exemplary oratory skills, fair and tall stature and a resonating voice. However, his forthrightness and impelling attitude make him seem an arrogant, self-asserting, violent person who thrusts his opinions unto others. But Gora at heart is an eternal optimist dreaming about his ideal Bharatvarsha, a prosperous and happy India, which according to him is achieved by uniting all classes under the large umbrella of Hinduism. As a person he is highly patriotic and sympathetic – cannot stand injustice and high-society atrocities over poor and the downtrodden.
His denial of his newly developed feelings for Sucharita and then the slow dawning of role of women in his dream country Bharatvarsha, his hurt when he learns about Binoy’s inclination towards Brahmos, his shock upon knowing the facts relating to his birth, then his aversion to religion/ caste system and his final repentance for forsaking his mother’s feelings in his pursuit have all been beautifully brought forth. This particular character has been etched so very well that you love and hate him both at the same time or constantly keep oscillating between the feelings of repugnance and appreciation.
Binoy, the best friend of Gora, is on the other hand a soft spoken, easily convincible and compassionate gentleman who initially comes across as a mere shadow of Gora but, in subsequent development, emerges as more genuine and self-analyzing. A golden-hearted person with high conscience, who cannot intentionally hurt anyone or refuse anything, is in constant dilemma about rights and wrongs. This is the character with which most of us can identify ourselves. He symbolizes the uncertainty that we undergo in our lives at various stages. He is also the reflection of the contradictions and ceaseless conflicts within us, between the heart and the brain, selfishness and humanity, good and the bad.
The story takes shape when these 2 Hindu boys come in contact with Poresh Babu, a mature and high thinking gentleman, and his family who represent the other facet of society, the Brahmos. They have adopted a more open-minded life style where even the ladies of the house have equal prominence. Sucharita and Lolita are the heroines who are educated and with their own point of view in life. The latter character is much ahead of her times and during the course of the story undergoes transition from a confused, guilt-ridden meek girl to a brave realistic person who has no hesitation about accepting her feelings for Binoy. Sucharita on the other hand maintains her demeanor throughout even while undergoing an agitation within herself for being attracted to an opposite mindset personality, Gora.
Tagore here voices a strong protest against alienating women from the main stream by lending them devotional status of goddess or mother. His heroines are full-blooded normal human beings having their emotions, feelings and responsibility towards society. The ladies are characterized as strong individuals with independent thinking and self-confidence.
There are many other interesting characters like Anandmoyi - has no religious affinities, believes in one God and is symbolic of Mother India; Baradasundari and Haran Babu – relentless Brahmos; Krishnadayal and Harimohini – fanatic Hindus; Mohim and Abinash – the hypocritical part of the society. Each of these characters in its own way contributes and justifies the status of society.
At times the book leaves you confused, unsure and drained yet no questions raised seem inappropriate or irrelevant. The story line is not preachy or advocating any principle instead full of debates, arguments, contemplation and musings that may be interpreted in various ways. There is no definite conclusion thrust upon the reader, rather it keeps you thinking about virtues of your ownself, your religion and the rectitude with which you follow what you perceive is right. Even the end is not definitive but only a new beginning of the concept of secularism.
Antiquity in all its Grandeur
A commemorative postage stamp featuring Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai
In the eighties, Kayar used to be telecast as a period drama series on Doordarshan. Having watched an episode or 2 then, I don’t remember to be impressed or understood anything being an adolescent. But recently, having read its English translation by N. Sreekantan Nair published through Sahitya Akademi, I can’t help but marvel at this masterwork of a book and its distinguished author.
Kayar (Coir) is a voluminous novel originally written in Malayalam by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. It is the saga of Thakazhi village in Kerala, during the British Raj and early days of Independence. The canvas of this magnum opus stretches across 7 generations and a time span of 150 years vividly painting the culture, tradition and the social order of yesteryears’ Kerala and the gradual transition it went through to arrive at the current state of affairs. By means of myriad characters it recounts in finer details the social, political, economic reformations as well as the upheavals the society, families and individuals went through those times.
Pillai’s style of writing is plain and straightforward but heartwarming nevertheless. There are no concealed connotations, suggestive overtones or confusing philosophies of any sort. Yet in this simple narrative of numerous tales of different people belonging to different communities/ religion and their families, Pillai reveals his great insight into human nature and acute analysis of human character. He skillfully etches the ‘Change’ in times, values – cultural and moral, lifestyles, caste system, human emotions and relations – personal as well as between various religious communities. His recitals efficaciously depict the gradual switch from the matriarchal to patriarchal system, the tragic consequences of the high-handed British Laws and Acts, failure of land reforms and its disastrous effect because of the partitions of the matriarchal families, radical transformation in the education system – from caste based guru-kuls to ecumenical English schools, defeated feudalism and slow emergence of socialism, new found awakening of patriotism, influence of Gandhism, ensued situations of World War II, creeping in nepotism, preferred overseas immigrations, overall greed and a general loss in prominence for morals, God and the good in the society.
Story unwinds with advent of renewed land classifications, by the orders of the Royal family, and arrival of a Classifier and his greedy wife in the village. The social set up then consisted of some powerful feudal lords belonging to the rich ancestral families of higher caste Namboodaris and Nairs enjoying complete authority over the matters pertaining to the village and the temple. The temple of village deity Dharma Sasthavu was held in high reverence and formed an integral part of the god-fearing people irrespective of caste and creed. The labour class was of Ezhavas, Parayas, Pulayas and Christians. The only source of income was agriculture and all payments were made in kind, especially measurements of Paddy. Deep-rooted customs, rituals and traditional sentiments were the undercurrents holding this society together.
Typical family would have several generations living under the same roof with daughters of the house inheriting ancestral properties and the uncles being responsible for bringing forth the nephews and nieces. Adultery and infidelity, though not socially acceptable were still prevalent and as-a-matter-of-fact things. Free willed marriages, widow remarriage, taking in second husband etc. were all accepted norms. Intercaste marriages were very common, but the rigidity of caste system prevailed by not taking any food at spouse’s place.
Corrupt Classifier and his team reassesses lands accepting bribes and other favours. The normal system is disrupted by such irrational land assignments and an imbalance creeps into these families. To add on to it, newer land reform laws of British and introduction of courts for settling disputes create a tumultuous situation as they are highly misused by the knavish.
Slowly, this affects generations down the line, and the once affluent families now face penury while the labour class and Christians gain prominence by sheer hard work and European association. All these are recounted through stories of different members of Kodanthara, Mangalaserry, Cheeratta, Seelanthipillil and other such families, Outha Mapilla, Attukkadavil Anthony and their successors representing Christian community and Purakkalathil Abdul Rasak, Pareed etc., belonging to the Muslim families.
Stories of Kochu Nair and his son Manikantan disclose the total revamp of Education system and the mad rush for official ranks and government posts. Through Kunjan Nair, Surendran and Viswanathan author brings out the patriotic ardour that was gaining stance. Similarly, World War II, partition of India on religious lines, gaining of Independence, there upon following elections, Government and other changes in the society are subtly conveyed.
The Novel is very big and takes considerable time for reading. There are more than 100 main characters and innumerable side stories and to keep track of them is slightly weary. The consistent introduction of several characters in first few chapters is somewhat confusing. But as you continue, you realize that it is not really necessary to remember them, simply because it’s a flowing story and with ample back references. Anyway, the list of main characters is given in the beginning, which is helpful as you cruise along this marathon classic. The complicated long Malayalee names, which are sometimes repeated over several generations, are bedeviling. Also generous use of Malayalam to maintain its originality gives that authentic native touch but would have been difficult to comprehend without the glossary provided at the end.
The only other book of similar genre that I can recall is “Things fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, which portrayed the cataclysm of African society on account of European invasion. Kayar however brings forth true India in all its beautiful diversity and gives a joyous experience of reading.
A highly recommended read.
The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
As the name suggests, it is a story of a Mistress of Spices! Sounded interesting hence I chose this one to read. It is written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni who also wrote “Arranged Marriage”, a book which I honestly did not know until I read this title.
Mistress of Spices is a story of a girl who is born to poor parents and regarded as a one who will again put her parents in misery as they will have to pay dowry. Little did they know at the time of her birth that she is born with supernatural powers of foreseeing future. As her fame spread, pirates hear about her and abducts her one day! However, she was powerful enough to overthrow the chief and became the queen of pirates. She was not satisfied and when in search of peace, she comes to an island where she is to become the Mistress of Spices under the rigorous training of First Mother.
The First Mother teaches her along with other girls all about the Spices. These spices are later to be used to cure other peoples’ misery when given to them with the magical chants. Once she manages to learn all those Special Powers, she is to run a Spice Store in Oakland. She is given the name ‘Tilo’. Tilo should never leave the store, she should never use the powers for herself but for others to help and last but not the least she should not make any physical contact with any human being. As the story progresses, readers find smaller stories intertwined where Tilo uses her powers to help others. While helping others, she is so taken into it that one after another she starts breaking the forbidden rules laid for Mistresses. Not only she breaks rules but she also allows herself to fall in love with a lonely American. Once she does that, there is no looking back even though the Spices punish her, First Mother warns her of the outcomes……she overrules all, the adamant, obstinate TILO.
Does she succeed in finding her true love, what happens exactly when she breaks all rules, how do spices punish her, who is the lonely American, how does she help the miserable through her special powers? All this and more in the novel where each chapter is named after a Spice ….I wished and imagined also if actually one can use the spices available in the kitchen the way it is used in the Book . The book is a good read for all those who believe in Magic and also for those who don’t for you can always enjoy the other aspects. How does Tilo re-emerges as “Maya” in the end is for you to read. It is an interesting story of magical powers of a woman who uses her powers to help others and self and finally re-emerges as Maya. A story of a woman who dares to taste the forbidden! Whether she succeeds or not in her search & unknown desires is for the readers to find out.
Ginger Chai verdict – Read it in leisure and you may be compelled to complete it at the earliest.
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is a famous Japanese writer who had his books translated into 38 other different languages. Haruki Murakmi wrote this novel back in 1992. It was translated and released in English by Philip Gabriel in 2000. South of the Border, West of the Sun discusses the messed up life of a regular Japanese man.
The man in discussion is called Hajime. His first love was this crippled girl called Shimamoto. They were good friends till one had to move away and they grew apart. He never forgot his first love.
His second love was in high school with this conservative girl called Izumi. The smooth sailing relationship crashed when Hajime hurt the girl leaving her scarred for life.
His third love Yukiko, ended up being his wife. He was now a happily married man with two kids. At the age of 38, Shimamoto enters his life again. This time round, she is no more the sickly, disabled girl but an attractive, rich looking woman. She carries this mysterious aura around her. Hajime learns nothing of her except that she is now well to do whose baby died the previous year.
First love strikes the chord again. Despite having immense love for his wife and family, he starts yearning for Shimamoto’s presence. Shimamoto usually visits him abruptly and leaves with a note that reads ‘I cannot meet you for a while’. Her notes were ambiguous which made Hajime restless. Yukiko figures that he is meeting someone else. She gives him time and tells him to decide who he wants to be with. This leaves him shattered. He doesn’t want to leave Yukiko, he loves Shimamoto, he loved his family, he ‘didn’t know’ what he should do.
When Shimamoto finally returns to give him a gift, he decides to leave his entire family for her. The day they were suppose to “run away”, she disappears never to appear again. On the same week, he runs into Izumi who was “beyond recognition”. (This by the way is not the ending.)
Haruki Murakami is a great story teller. The people, the emotions, the locations, they were all believable. The characters were made to be ones that could be your neighbor, your friend, someone you definitely came across before. They were not out of the world, they were not exaggerated. The dialogues were the kind a regular man would say. Nothing too fancy or clichéd.
It was a simple man’s tale told in a simple way.
Note: If the review gave you the idea that it could be a romance novel, it is not.
Author: Haruki Murakami
Original language: Japanese
Publication date: 1992
Published in English : 1999
Airport by Arthur Hailey
The book recounts 12 nervous hours in the life fictional airport ‘Lincoln International’ at Chicago and how the lives of about a dozen people collide as a result.
Mel Bakersfield (Airport General Manager),
Cindy Bakersfield (Mel’s wife),
D O Guerro (a passenger with a terrifying agenda!),
Tanya Livingston (A passenger relations officer; Mel has an affair with her),
Vernon Demerest (Captain and pilot of the flight ‘The Golden Argosy’ to Italy, and Mel’s brother-in-law),
Gwen Meighen (Senior Stewardess on board The Golden Argosy and Vernon’s mistress),
Eliott Freemantle (Lawyer with questionable ethics trying to bilk a local community that has been forever tormented by the literal din created by the airport, as a result of its proximity)
Joe Patroni (head of maintenance at the airport)
Ada Quosnett (A senior citizen and a Stowaway!)
The book is quite huge and phenomenal in detail and it’s quite a challenge to write a review without writing a book again!
Mel Bakersfield has to deal with the following in twelve long, prickly hours:
Lincoln International has been hammered by the worst snow storm in recorded history with feet of snow banks covering major runways. One such runway is Runway 30 which Joe Patroni, the heavily experienced legendary maintenance chief is trying to clear. Needless to say, air traffic has taken a bad hit!
Ada Quosnett, a senior citizen and a veteran of stowing-away on aircrafts gets herself, surreptitiously onto the ‘Golden Argosy’, a flight to Italy.
Vernon Demerest, who loathes Mel is one of the pilots of the Golden Argosy. He recently found out that his mistress, Gwen Meighen, was a few weeks pregnant with his child. The problem — he is in an emotionless marriage that he wants to break away from but doesn’t want to have a child either!
Tanya Livingston is ‘Trans America Airline’s passenger relations and she has a thing for Mel which is not unrequited! She is also an intelligent, savvy person and can deal with difficult people and difficult situations.
D O Guerrero is a failed building contractor. His family is impecunious. He hatches a plan, a nasty one! He plans on boarding the ‘Golden Argosy’ and blow it to smithereens once it’s in the air. The resulting insurance money (provided that the reason for the explosion goes undetected) would help his penurious family.
As all this is going on, Eliott Freemantle, a scheming lawyer has a demonstration right in the airport.
The book recounts Mel Bakerfield’s reaction to 12 hours of shear suspense which include a philandering wife, feet of snow on an important run way, a mid air explosion gone wrong, picketing by the lawyer, his own brother’s suicidal tendency, a stowaway and not to mention, a pregnancy!
In short: Yes, the bomb does go off.
No, the aircraft doesn’t crash but is close to it!
Yes, Cindy Bakersfield has an affair and Mel and Cindy split by mutual consent.
Yes, Eliott Freemantle, the corrupt lawyer is defeated as a result of Mel’s glib recollection of several proceedings from the court of law.
No, the end isn’t entirely happy. Neither is it tragic. Just complete.
Every time I think of an airport, several details that I was completely oblivious to before I read the book seem obvious to me! This is a delightful foray into the internal workings and those of customs officers, lawyers, maintenance men, police officers, not to mention politically motivated ‘people’ and crisis management teams that goes on in an airport and best known to us, ‘weary travelers’!
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The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Fountain Head is a story of one man and the rest of the world. It is a philosophical fiction that entails the story through love, lust, trust, jealousy, care, passion, and enthusiasm of the people and the world.
The story starts with the two architecture students, Howard Roark and Peter Keating; one being expelled from the college for his designing methods that were considered inappropriate by the professors, and the latter being the topper of the same college. The story moves on marking the methods and principles, they adopted in their architectural career, and how it became the reason for their success and downfalls. It also presents a very powerful picture of print media – how it can control the people, the world and their opinions.
There are certain parts in the book which can be read, reread and reread a number of times. While reading it, there were instances, when I lost track of the book, and drove on to the path of my own life, thinking deeply about it. This book is so powerful in its essence, that it can change a person’s view for nature, world, society, and an individual. This is one of the most intelligently written books that I have come across; one lady suffering for her lover, two men wanting to own the world, other people dancing to the tunes of money and fame, and one man living his life as he desired, all this together make this a very energetic and dynamic book.
||15 April 1943
||Print (Hardback & Paperback)
- Reviewd by Chetan Maheshwari. To read other book reviews of Chetan, Click HERE.
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Abduction by Robin Cook
A scientific research deep sea drilling team drills into an underwater volcano except that it isn’t a volcano at all!
Perry Bergman (President of Benthic marine), Suzanne (Oceanographer), Donald (ex-navy), Michael (ex-naval diver who was thrown out the Navy as a result of more than a few transgressions), Richard (same story as Michael!)
Benthic marine is an exploration and drilling vessel which sends a team down to investigate an underwater oceanographic anomaly. They expect to find an underwater volcano but when the team approaches the said anomaly, they get sucked into a seemingly bottomless pit into a dystopian world where there are ‘people’ living. Really beautiful people, physically and mentally -A utopia. They call their land ‘interterra‘.
The interterrans are supposedly the ‘first’ race of humans ever who moved underground and underwater to escape a predicament that awaited the dinosaurs and such. So, having a leg up on the ‘second generation humans’, the interterran’s technology far exceeds the wildest imagination of the drilling team.
The interterrans welcome the unexpected guests and bestow on them all the pleasures of life that could be imaginable. They come to realize the very many fascinating advances in science that the interterrans have made. For instance, they’ve somehow perfected the human body to sustain several centuries without severe debilitation. And if the human body were to wither away, the ‘essence’ of the body would be captured and injected into another body, a next life.
However, what dawns on our team of intrepid scientists and ex-navy soldiers that they are prisoners in a gilded cage. The interterrans have no intention of letting them go back to the surface as that would give away this secret and given the belligerent nature of us, the second generation humans, it would only bring war, terror and despair to interterra.
The unwilling participants, except Suzanne (who decides to remain in Interterra), somehow contrive an escape by taking a few of the interterrans hostage. This leads to the interterran government eventually realizing that they couldn’t stop the escaping second generation humans and hence ‘send them back’.
But where exactly do they ‘send them back’? Little do Perry Bergman, Donald, Michael and Richard know that although they’ve escaped the underwater gilded prison, they are in for a humongous surprise when they do figure out what they’ve swapped interterra for!
A must read for fans of Robin Cook. This is the first time the american author has deviated from medical mysteries and has done a good job at that!
Robin Cook does an amazing job with creating the dystopian utopia, Interterra and the trials, tribulations and psychological effect it has on all characters.
Book: Abduction (2000)
Author: Robin Cook
- Article written by Sir Pumpkin Longshanks. The name may sound funny and weird and it spills over his character too. He prefers to keep his identity secret and we respect his choice. Want to read more of his articles ? Click HERE.
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The Broker by John Grisham
When it comes to reading books with power play, I trust no one else than John Grisham. He has a sense of power in his writing and personally I rate him more than Mario Puzo. (we can always agree to disagree!)
Joel Backman is a former powerful Washington Beltway lobbyist who was called ‘The broker’ in his glory days and now spending six months in federal prison and is ‘Broke’ The story revolves around this master mind who escapes the clutches of some of the best agencies in the world-Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The plot is played brilliantly with the addition of Pakistani Hackers, the CIA, white house corruption and a chase, a terrifying chase on the beautiful streets of Italy.
Infact, Backman is pardoned and released by US authorities on a ploy to undo a knot he made and for which he landed up in prison. Backman had gone to prison as a result of a scheme to sell a classified satellite system’s secrets to the highest bidder. The U.S. wants to know who owned the system and had access to its secrets, and who he was intending to sell the secrets to -Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Israel or Saudi Arabia. They theorize that once the broker is established in a new location with a new identity, the actual owner will exact its revenge on Backman by assassination, thereby revealing further useful intelligence.
So will the CIA get their information? Can the old man in his fifties outwit five of the most deadliest agencies in the world? Can the broker ever return to the states, his home ground.
You should read it.
||January 11, 2005
||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
||368 pp (hardcover edition)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
‘The white tiger’ is the debut novel of the novelist Mr. Aravind Adiga and is the winner of the man booker prize in 2008.
This book is a first person account- in form of a letter written by the narrator to the president of China- Mr. Wen Jiabao. The narrator, Balram halwai writes the letter during seven nights to tell him the story behind the self made entrepreneurs of Bangalore.
The story of Balram halwai starts in Gaya district of Bihar, which he, metaphorically, prefers to call ‘the darkness’. The story commences at a point when Balram is still a child and goes on to tell how his family and many other families are under the thumbs of powerful landlords. Aided by some powerful and gripping narration the story further tells us how Balram receives very little education and becomes a driver to a US educated, weak willed son of the land lord. In course of fulfilling his ambitions, he murders his master and sets up his business in Bangalore.
At times the story may seem a bit clichéd or even melodramatic… but the genius of Adiga lies in narration, which prevents the book from being monotonous or overwhelming and also makes the book a ‘read at one go’. Another idiosyncrasy of Mr. Adiga is his dark humor. Inch perfect use of dark humor makes the book humorous at places but simultaneously keeping it purposeful with a message. A perfect sample of the trademark dark humor is provided by the following lines from the book-
“Now, you are visiting us this week, Your Excellency, aren’t you? All India Radio is usually reliable on these matters.
That was a joke sir. Ha!”
Another trademark feature of the book is the use of analogies. The spontaneous and astute analogies derived by the author not only make the book captivating but also are extremely thought provoking.
But the pick of all the analogies is the Rooster Coop Analogy where the author compares India with a rooster coop in which people, engrossed in their highly competitive daily lives are referred to as the chicken packed in a coop in market. Another example of the excellent analogies derived by the author is a scene in which villagers are animatedly discussing about local election. The situation prevalent at the place is that everyone is a registered voter but is not allowed to vote as bogus votes are cast on their behalf. The author at this point compares them to “eunuchs discussing Kamasutra”.
But despite of all these attributes, at the end of the book, an Indian reader feels cheated. A bit like the movie Slumdog Millionaire, this book seems to explore all negative aspects (poverty, illiteracy, corruption etc) of India, without even touching on anything positive. When you read the book the portrayal of India as ‘the land of all bad and no good’ hurts the ego of a proud Indian citizen.
The book gives more of a foreigner’s view of India meant for foreigners. I say so because the pessimistic view of India present in the book only reinforces what the west believes India to be and I believe this may be one of the major factors contributing to its tremendous success in west.
The book cannot portray real India because
- Its tendency of polarizing- showing people either extremely rich or extremely poor. There is no section called ‘the middle class’ which forms an important and large portion of the present Indian society.
- Yes, corruption and illiteracy form an important part of the current social dynamics of India but they are not the whole of the social dynamics of India, as portrayed by the book. There is a particular, and large section of people called ‘the service class’ which is very much educated and not even half as much sunk in corruption as shown in the book.
Hence the book is an excellent, gripping and enjoyable read (even being thought provoking at times) but to say that it represents the ‘real India’ would be unjust and myopic on our part.
Though a fiction, the book handles a serious topic hence it is not your typical ‘fun filled fiction’. Hence, some might find it difficult to stick to the book till end while it is a highly recommended book for those who like serious topics.
Have a nice read.