By Jeet Thayil
Faber &Faber, 2012
When the shortlist was announced, this was the book I looked forward to most. A new author, a tale of old India, Bombay, and all set in a time when turbulence abounded. It did, I’m afraid, leave me with a disappointment that causes me difficulty in writing this blog. You see, I couldn’t finish it. Taking my own mantra on board about not wasting time in struggling with a book you don’t enjoy, I failed to get past the first 70 pages.
I tried while waiting in the doctor’s surgery; I tried reading it as my bedtime reading; riding on a bus to work; and I even tried to read it as a study piece, in the quiet, at a table and almost making notes. But nothing worked for me. The book makes no sense to me at all. To my mind, the author has mixed up the real world, the dreams and aspirations of the main protagonist along with opium filled settings, visions and hallucinations. Confused? I certainly was. I know that this was possibly the intention of Thayil.
I have no objection to new works written in new styles, but this particular one had me completely baffled. I can honestly say that I had absolutely no idea about what was going on; I do understand that there was a plot line and the failing is mine, not the authors. I had decided that as the book was in the same sort of time era and geography, it would be in the same ilk as work by Rohinton Mistry. Trust me here, it isn’t! If I am fortunate enough to have Mr. Thayil read my blog, then I do apologise for not enjoying the tale, but not for the comparison to Mistry. For my money, the book doesn’t even get close.
However, should you have read this book, or do so in future, I would welcome your comments on the blog site; who knows, I might be given a reason to have another look and trying to decipher the story. It just might need a long train journey to do so though.
BookerBookBloke verdict 2/10
Why not try my short story about the life and times of Florence Nightingale?
It can be found, online at:
or one about the last night of Guy Fawkes: