This is an excerpt from a mail I wrote a while ago, to William Dalrymple. Seemed like a good read and I couldn’t find the RSS feed tab (since I am so technically challenged!)
I must admit it was a fantastic read. The nine pages went by without as much as a hiccup! I especially loved the innovative use of words. (‘chutnified’ being just one of them!) I will confine my opinions to the books I have read because I don’t think I can truthfully comment on the books I haven’t read.
Something that Arundhati Roy said is so true – the fact about Indian writers who stay abroad and write about the on-goings in India… but there is a certain amount of nostalgia smeared in their works. Like Rohinton Mistry – he is my favourite Indian Author. I relish his writings. Sometimes, I feel his words just ache with nostalgia. He fully exploits his Bombay Parsi background and makes sure that time freezes in the 70’s and 80’s.
I have this English teacher from school days. He introduced me to R Mistry’s books. And I can’t thank him enough to this day. He also coaxed me to read Vikram Seth… but I am strictly a ‘prose-person’. Years later, he also recommended Life of Pi. I read the book during a train journey to Chennai. That one hovered between reality and hallucinations – kind of scared me off, but loved it anyway.
Our Indian school curriculum has, thankfully, given some credit to Anita Desai and R.K Narayan. I have read their writings in school, at first for the marks, and later, for pleasure. In fact, the last book before I took up City of Djinns, was Guide. I loved his stories about Swami and his friends. It reminded me that life in rural India hasn’t really changed from during the 40’s and the 90’s. During the Gulf War, we (my family) relocated and lived in Kerala for a while. Most of the things Swami did while growing up really sounded like our escapades, as children.
Children – that brings me to the beautifully sad tale, The God of Small Things. I am forced to dedicate a separate paragraph for this work of art. I have read the book thrice. At first: to understand the story, second: to savour the language, third: to understand Arundhati Roy. She wrote as though there will never be another chance to write ever again. I think she has completely exhausted herself while writing this book. I had an added advantage –I did not have to turn the page back to the explanatory passages to understand the Malayalam terms and Keralite lifestyle. She has captured the turmoil in political Kerala like few others… I have heard of those tumultuous days from the elders in my family. Now, like in Roy’s case, most of them have left Kerala for, ironically, greener pastures.
I have read Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. It was a little difficult for me to swallow, but I liked it nevertheless. But I somehow did not like Hari Kunzru’s Transmission! Nothing compels me to try out The Impressionist either.
I wish I could end this page with some profound words from Mistry – but I can’t remember any that fits here.