A posthumously published work authored by Kamala Markandaya, with an introduction written by Charles Larson that sensitively portrays the life and work of the author. Actually, that turns out to be a story in itself – about an author whose first work was acclaimed, but who was later found hunting for publishers, trying in vain to understand a literary world that seemed to have changed.
The novel is set in the 80s in Bombay, with a self made industrialist as its protagonist. Much as the author uses him to hold together the story, and drives it forward through his relationships with different characters, she also switches the narrative consistently to show a side of the story from the perspective of these characters.
Sometimes this causes a deviation, but the author manages to rein it in more often than not. Though she might have wanted her protagonist to epitomise the changing nature of the Bombay (or even Indian) business world, the story rarely explores that frontier and is happy discovering nuances in human relationships. That’s probably what harms the novel, because it vaguely promises a vast canvas but leaves many parts blank. It’s as though the author changed her mind after the first couple of chapters. But it has to be said that the quality of prose and the narrative switches ensure that the reader doesn’t tune out. Honestly, I was more touched by the introduction (the life of the author) and wished that the author had had more successes. Rest in peace, Kamala Markandaya.
As a birthday present, I got featured in the Top 100 Book Related blogs to follow as well! Scroll down to #55 (that happens to be a favourite number as well)
An infographic by the team at CouponAudit