The week that passed has been unpleasant for the novel. Two of its most feted practitioners — Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan— received an unkind cut, being omitted from the year’s Man Booker longlist; in another outburst, a former Oxford professor condemned the duo’s work as well-crafted but hollow, denouncing the contemporary English novel as passing through a “fallow period”.
Saraswati Park (named after the suburban Mumbai residential enclave where the main characters stay) is a book about “love and loss and the noise in our heads”, the blurb on the book jacket says; it is supposed to depict “how, in spite of everything, life… continues”. Capturing the continuum that is life in 250-odd pages is a tall order for any creative artist, to say the least, and Joseph sets to accomplish the task by letting us peer into the life of Mohan Karekar, a letter writer who plies his trade near the Mumbai GPO and dreams of writing short stories, his wife Lakshmi and Ashish, a 19-year-old nephew who comes to live with them.
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