Winner of the Booker Prize in 1997, ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy tells the story of twins Esthappen and Rahel and their extended family living in Ayemenem House in Kerala, southern India including their mother Ammu, their uncle Chacko, grandmother Mammachi, great aunt Baby Kochamma and Chacko’s daughter Sophie Mol. The plot focuses on multiple family tragedies, the most significant of which are the mystery surrounding the death of Sophie Mol and the family’s disapproval of Ammu’s lover Velutha because he is an Untouchable. Continue reading
Tag Archives: India
After reading The Shore by Sara Taylor and The Spring of Kasper Meier by Ben Fergusson earlier this month, I’ve been reading the other two books shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. They are ‘The Year of the Runaways’ by Sunjeev Sahota and this year’s winner ‘Loop of Jade’ by Sarah Howe.
It still seems a bit too soon to start reading fiction again after finishing A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, so I thought I would read some of the non-fiction I’ve been meaning to read for a long time instead. ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum’ by Katherine Boo follows the lives of three families who live in Annawadi, a large slum next to Sahar International Airport in Mumbai which was initially inhabited by migrant workers during the early 1990s. Over the course of three and a half years of reporting in the region between 2007 and 2011, Boo documented the experiences of the slum-dwellers and their day-to-day lives. Continue reading
Shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘The Lives of Others’ by Neel Mukherjee tells the story of twenty-one year old Supratik Ghosh who has left his comfortable family home in Calcutta/Kolkata to join the Communist Party of India. Set primarily in 1967, the story alternates between Supratik’s new life as a Naxalite activist and guerilla fighter working in the rice fields of West Bengal and the everyday lives of the relatives he has left behind. Continue reading
Jhumpa Lahiri was one of my favourite new discoveries in 2013 so I have really been looking forward to reading her latest novel, ‘The Lowland’ which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year and has recently been longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. It tells the story of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan, who grow up in Calcutta in the 1950s and 1960s. While Udayan’s involvement in an underground Communist movement ultimately results in his death, Subhash starts a new life in the United States, later marrying his widowed and pregnant sister-in-law, Gauri, and taking her with him back to New England. Continue reading
For me, one of the great things about literary awards is discovering the work of authors which might otherwise have passed me by. The Man Booker Prize longlist, for example, recently brought Jhumpa Lahiri to my attention. After reviewing ‘Unaccustomed Earth‘ just a few weeks ago, I got hold of copies of her first collection of short stories ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and her first novel ‘The Namesake’ published in 2003. I am now hoping that Lahiri’s new Booker Prize shortlisted novel ‘The Lowland’ lives up to my increasingly high expectations.
I am probably not going to have the chance to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s Man Booker Prize longlisted novel ‘The Lowland’ any time soon as it isn’t due to be published in the UK until the end of September so I thought I would try a collection of her short stories instead. ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ contains eight exquisitely written stories. The first half of the collection consists of five stand-alone stories while the second half is more of a novella in three parts featuring the same characters, Hema and Kaushik. Continue reading
I loved Aravind Adiga’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel ‘The White Tiger’ and short story collection ‘Between the Assassinations’ and his latest novel ‘Last Man in Tower’ is equally enthralling. The story is about a real estate developer Dharmen Shah who offers the residents of a dilapidated tower block in Mumbai vast amounts of money to leave so that he can build luxury apartments on the land. Of course, one by one they all accept his offer apart from Masterji, a retired widower. Soon, his neighbours become prepared to take matters into their own hands.
I love Adiga’s evocative and colourful descriptions of life in India. His writing in ‘Last Man In Tower’ truly brings twenty-first century Mumbai to life – everything from the smell of the traffic to the taste of the food leaps off the page. The book is as much about the city as it is about the large and complex cast of characters who inhabit it with the reader being confronted with the messy realities of life in modern India. Continue reading