Tuesday, March 06, 2007

3 books same sensibility

1. The Radiance of Ashes by Cyrus Mistry
2. Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
3. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

The prime sensibility here is Mumbai. All the books are set in Mumbai. I have yet to read the 3rd, am waiting eagerly to do so.

1. Whattabook! the least hyped of the three. not the best book ever, but certainly top of the line. a flawed hero copes with life in Mumbai. the author tells his story simply, then whammy! there is a gorgeous paragraph or a line that leaves you gasping. It was born of an award winning short story that begged to be extended. and Cyrus does that with aplom, fleshing out some good characters. I get the impression that it was written by a shy bespectacled retiring kind of a fellow. someone who would withdraw possessively if you tried to discuss the book with him.

"Twenty five stories below, the city looked different. Almost beautiful."

For years to come, some avid lover of books is going pick this book out of the shelf of a library or bookstore, leaf thru a few pages and pick it up for reading. In doing so the reader will be charmed anew by his lovely prose and a delicate story.

2. Suketu Mehta is the richest author of the three. His book was commissioned and he had good money to write too. Not to detract from the book, of course. He is more than capable of the charge. Although the book is a documentary, it reads like a novel. He called himself 'bi-textual' a cross between a fiction writer and a reporter. His book takes you thru a roller coaster ride of Mumbai's various features, underworld, bomb blasts, politics, topography, food, bar girls, movies, police and even a description of the Jain diksha ceremony. His 'bi-textual' facility guides you easily through the book. the real characters with fictionalised names are garnered with spice. the famous names are left bare for all to see.

Just when i was admiring the fact that he seemed so non-judgemental while describing killers, Suketu kind of spoiled things for me by being judgemental. but i suppose he couldn't help it, maybe he was overcome by disgust. Anyhow, he does not pull punches (if he does, he masks it too well for me to notice). The book punches you in the solar plexus (to borrow a word I read a lot in the James Hadley Chase novels) knocks the wind out of you and shakes you up.

3.. Wait guys, I have yet to read the book
The book bestows a charmed status on that dirty ungainly crowded traffic infested monstrosity that is Mumbai. The people who love it love it a lot, I know not why.

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