Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Too much to ask for?

Have started reading ‘ Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh…
Though havent’t got through even half of the book to pass judgments on it….but true to my character lemme pass some premature judgment ….not on the content of the book but the style….. not particular to this book but to the Modern Indian Literature in general …

It falls into the same stereotype Indian Authorish mode… the same vague, contorted way of writing sometimes bordering on a supercilious attitude…Simplicity is a word they just haven’t learnt…. why do things have to be kept so deep where the reader has to rack every grey cell to fathom the meaning the author wants to convey…lets take the example of ‘God of Small Things’…. Maybe it was the lack of my intellectual ability…But I couldn’t figure what the author wanted to convey…. also it was such an unrealistic portrayal of Kerala….the storyline(was there a story?) was incoherent….there wasn’t a single strong well etched character….Just lots of pages full of big words and over description of Kerala…. to add to it Roy’s wit and humor (or the lack of it) coupled with tragedy…. It was like a gas filled balloon. just air and no substance…Basically the book failed to make an impact…Dunno why it got the Booker! Compare this with Life of Pi or Animal Farm both with very simple plots and a lucid style of narration… but get across the message very clearly!

Another characteristic of these books is their dark and morbid setup…I haven’t seen one Modern Indian book with a nice, lively backdrop…be it Ice candy man, Interpreter of Maladies (well the title says it all!) or Equal Music. There is always a feeling of gloom…. there is always adultery…and the inevitable reality of life’Death’…There is no trace of humour anywhere. …Neither slapstick nor wry nor vulgar…none whatsoever!!! In their books India is still not the place moving fast as one of the vibrant, youthful nations of the world…. it is still the same old land of mystery…This is why I prefer books by Chetan Bhagat which might not be literary wonders but very well capture the other side of India….

And the last but the most striking feature is horrendous depiction of sex…They just cannot get it across well…Okie its good that its not raunchy like Ken Follet or Sidney Sheldon (Shobha De’s an exception she rules the world of ‘cheap sex’)…but they always allude to it in a very weird way…Its neither classy nor arousing nor exciting nor titillating…..some times I feel its just there because the publishers told them to put it in……or jus cos every book has it…..

Why can’t we just have nice, simple, honest books like ‘Kabuliwalah’, ’Five Point Someone’ or for that matter epic dramas like’Mahabharatha’…Too much to ask for?!!!!


SOO-BEER said...

sam !!! Didn't know u r on blogger too

Btw, I am gonna read 'Five Point Someone' soon ... havent got a hold of it yet. Is it good?

shreya said...

"Have started reading ‘ Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh…" : Frankly, hated the book. Don't quite remember why (it was a long time ago), but do clearly remember hating it.

But I couldn’t figure what the author wanted to convey…. : Nothing. There was no "message". It was a simple tale, made even more simple (or more complex) because of the fatc that it was told through the eyes of children. It was remarkable in the fatc that she invented a compeltely new language, if i may.

also it was such an unrealistic portrayal of Kerala : Realism is not the domain of children, nor the domain of memory, which is what her book boils down to.

It was like a gas filled balloon. just air and no substance : Personlly, thats what I loved. And I find there are many who agree.

I haven’t seen one Modern Indian book with a nice, lively backdrop : Can I suggest RK Narayan? Or Seth's Suitable Boy?

And the last but the most striking feature is horrendous depiction of sex : No comment!!! But- I loved the last few pages of "God of Small Things"...the lovemaking between the untouchable (with an autumn leaf on his black back) and whats her name...

shreya said...

What is Modern Indian Literature anyways? Are they books written by Indians (Seth's Equal Music), or books written with India as a backdrop(RK Narayan), or books about Indians in other lands (Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake)?

In the latter two cases, does it matter that the author may be non-indian? In the first case, does it matter that the book has nothing about India?

I always find it amusing, that VS Naipaul is sometimes found in the "Modern Indian Literature" section at Crosswords. For he is trinidadian (if that!), and his books use the rest of the world as their backdrop...just coz he is of Indian ancestry...

What Say?

Saumya said...

hey shreya....well abt god of small things ....frankly speaking as i tol i didnt have the intellectual capability to grasp the message....
Well yes I know they are not Indians and use it as a backdrop....faux paux there...should have said authors of Indian Origin..
Suitable Boy was okie but quite didnt njoi it....Love RK narayan forgot to mention him in the post....
and coming back to Indian authors....Chetan Bhagat let me down with 'one night at a call centre'....
The pt here is they have great potential....but just lose focus down the line!

Saumya said...

and hey thnx for the comments.....loved your way of looking at it!

rahul nair said...

@ god of small things..
crappy book.. yes.. crappy sex.. hell yes!
but sidney sheldon.. sam.. i kno armies of kids who grew up on the sex in tat.. so its "holy ground".. dont criticize!!!

also havent read glass palace, but its true..indian books are more or less crappy. only exception so far, rk.narayanan.. books cant be simpler than tat. le fin.
the last indian book i read was "last song of dusk" by sidharth dhanwant shangvi... surprised i dint try huntin tat bastard down for writin tat piece of crap.. its incest+porny sex(yeah baby.. blow jobs n all!!!)+"mystic-indian-tantric-weirdo-stroyline"...(EGAAAKS.. did i just coin a new term????)
neways.. point being.. i think im better off in the world of the harry potters.. n the occasional wilbur smiths n "deathstalkers"..

Pavan said...

Hi Saumya
Chanced upon this blog... i don know where i started from but i am glad i found this...
Can you tell me a few details about the work ex you have and the percentile you got in CAT and a few details on the prep.
I am planning to take CAT this year and i have a couple of doubts. if you think it is too private to be discussed on a public forum please mail me on


Sorabh said...

Beg to differ. Think Seth is one of the most talented and gifted authors of our times. An Equal Music (EM) was my favorite book till I read The Suitable Boy (SB). I would describe EM as a tragic love story, not dark. Its a beautifully writen and a powerful book. You should read SB. It is in complete contrast to EM. Its set in the India of 50's. And its a book about Indians. A little comical at places and rightly described by some as an EPIC. In complete contrat to these two is his Golden Gate (GG). GG is a story writen entirely in prose!!!! Its a story about Americans in America!

So you see, 3 books set in 3 different places about 3 different ppls. Is that not amazing? How can a single guy write so beautifully about 3 different cultures!!! The guy is really Talented.

Beg to differ on God Of Small Things (GOST). Read it some years ago... This one is a book writen from a child's perspective. Remember the kid is narrating the story. Think it is a great book, and remember that the title says it all, "God of "SMALL" Things". Remember Lee Harper's, "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

I must also mention that apart from this book, am not a fan of Roy, think she is too much of a communist.

Think its totally unfair to compare the likes of Seth and Roy with Bhagat! These guys are in a different league. Bhagat is like Cola, Seth is like a nice wine.