Set in the 1970s in a boarding school in Rajasthan, ‘Tin Fish’ is the story of four friends and their ‘wonder years’. ‘Tin Fish’, named after the canned fish that was a regular in the narrator’s tuck box, and which brought with the comfort and familiarity of home and family.
Narrated by Brandy, short for Barun Ray, this is the story of his days at Mayo, spent with his best friends – Fish, Porridge and PT Shoe, each of whom bring to Mayo, their own baggage, even before they can understand the word.
The book seems (at least) partially autobiographical as the author is able to easily get into the mind of a child and then his transition into teenage – the whirlwind of emotions, the discoveries, the first crush, the pain of loss and most importantly the understanding that nothing lasts forever.
Each character is well etched, with its own own idiosyncrasies, and relationship with other characters. From the obsession with ‘gora chicks’ and Zeenie Baby to Mick Jagger and the plans to form the ‘Get Lost on the Ganga and All That’ band, the book is about coming to terms – not just with a world outside the confines of the fishbowl that is the ‘Mayo world’ – the outside world with Emergency, a urine drinking prime minister etc but also their own world – one which shows them that joy, sadness, love, hatred, despair, anger, pity etc all go hand in hand. Witty, wistful and poignant, its a book about the loss of innocence.
And then there’s the slang, that would go something like “its a cool breeze book, read it ya”.