Sunday, July 22, 2012

Just read

The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi. Dealing with the travails of a corrupt central government employee who lives in Delhi with his family, I found myself compelled to finish it as soon as I could, to the detriment of various pending household jobs. The characters and the language are authentic, even the translations of stock Hindi idioms are charming- 'doodh ka dhula' becomes 'washed in milk', which sounds very real in the voice of Arti, the protagonist Naresh Kumar's wife. The domestic details, the nuances of relationships both within and between families, a happily married man's long unexpressed desire for another woman, a visit to the North East which transforms him in more ways than one, the corruption which riddles our institutions, including the police, a murder where an innocent man is framed out of sheer expedience, childlessness and the pressures it brings about on all concerned............this rich mixture is handled with amazing flair. The depiction of life in sarkari New Delhi strikes a chord with many of us who have lived there, as do the the pleasures of eating icecream at India Gate and chaat in Chandni Chowk. The city never intrudes, yet is an integral part of the story.
I haven't read Amitabha Bagchi's earlier book, Above Average (2007), but after reading The Householder I definitely will.

Here is a more detailed review.

The Householder by Amitabha Bagchi, published in 2012 by Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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