Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bloodstained kind of suits her

A Dead Hand is Paul Theroux's 30th novel and 48th book since he began writing about East Africa in the 1960s. His previous novel, which contained three separate novellas of unequal length, was The Elephanta Suite, also set in India, but mainly in Mumbai and Bangalore. A Dead Hand is a Bengali story, a work of creative fiction, that contains hidden tributes to: Rabindranath Tagore who won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1913; Rajat Neogy, who founded Transition in Kampala, Uganda, in the early 1960s where Theroux's literature adventures took off - both of Theroux's first novels, Waldo (1967) and Fong and the Indians (1968) are Ugandan tales; V. S. Naipaul, his bte noir, for his A House for Mr Biswas (1961); and Mulk Raj Anand, the great Indian writer who was the champion of the oppressed.

Theroux has fun creating Jerry Delfont, an American travel and short magazine article writer who has been in Calcutta giving talks organised by the cultural arm of the American Embassy. Instead of moving on, as has always been his bent, Jerry pauses in Calcutta. He hopes he can surmount his writer's block. He also is titillated by the interest taken in him by a charming and attractive young Bengali woman (always accompanied by her chaperones).  Parvati's poetry far excels anything Jerry is capable of - she is gifted in so many ways. But she is also so unattainable.

Full report here Mmegi Online

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