Sunday, August 8, 2010

A city’s consciousness

Sharply etched portraits of Mumbai and its people trapped in a plot of contrived ends

On almost every page of Saraswati Park, Anjali Joseph’s debut novel, named for the block of flats in which the three central characters live, the calmness of the narrative appears to be a build-up to an explosive finale. Detailing with meticulous attention what each of the three does as they go about their daily lives, the storyline is so front-loaded with possibilities that a crisis, even a catastrophe, seems inevitable.

This is reinforced all the more by the choice of Mumbai as a setting. The placid prose—not as ultra slo-mo or as up close to the subject as Amit Chaudhuri’s, but definitely a reminder—is almost a set-up for the seemingly mundane lives of Mohan, his wife Lakshmi and his nephew Ashish to intersect with one of the many violent events to have befallen the city. So it is both a relief and a disappointment that nothing of the sort happens—despite the (unintentional?) red herrings in the form of Ashish wandering past Leopold Café and the Gateway of India late one evening.

Full report here Mint

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