Which book I read first – Kiran Nagarkar’s Ravan and Eddie or Allan Sealy’s The Everest Hotel - I can not remember. Nor can I recall what I thought of the books, other than the fact that Nagarkar’s books seemed full of rude bits (or so it seemed to my puritanical young mind) and Sealy wrote long, beautifully descriptive passages.
Indian authors. So much is said and written about them, so my initial reaction was: what on earth do I have to add to that? Plus, I’m terrible at writing about my reaction to books, cinema and music. The emotions I feel when reading a book or watching a film elude me when I sit down to write about them. But, I have been tagged, and since I have nothing else to blog about, why not? (Please ignore any previous blog posts which may have stated that I will never do another tag)
So here, in no particular order are Indian authors I enjoy reading.
Anita Desai: I first read Fasting and Feasting and was struck by how beautifully Desai captured small town India and some of the small minded people who live there. Since then, I’ve read many of her short stories, ‘Twilight Games’, ‘Diamond Dust’, ‘Private Tuition by Mr.Bose’ – the last a particular favourite: the slyly flirtatious student, Mr. Bose’s increasing embarrassment and fluster and his wife furiously making puris in the kitchen, one eye on the tuition room the entire time. Next on the list: In Custody.
Ambai: It’s a deep regret of mine that I cannot read Ambai’s short stories in tamizh, or rather that if I attempted to would take me the better part of a day to complete a few paragraphs. When I bought ‘In a forest, a deer’ in Madras last year I had heard of Ambai briefly as someone my mother read and didn’t really know what to expect. I was hooked after the first story though – ‘A rat, A sparrow’ – where a woman living in Bombay is both overwhelmed and disgusted by the city, overjoyed to hear the sound of voices speaking in tamizh but disappointed when she meets tamizh people. The story captured so many of my own feelings when I first arrived in Bombay and then London.
Rohinton Mistry A Fine Balance and Family Matters are two books I will always treasure. His writing fills me with horror, evokes tenderness and can make me laugh all in the span of a few pages.
VS Naipaul: Till recently I had only read Sir Vidiya’s non-fiction. And then Falstaff recommended Miguel Street. What a joy the book turned out to be. The stories are all narrated by Boy, a young lad living on impoverished Miguel Street where the likes of Errol, Hat, Mr. Popo and the poet B.Wordsworth lead their bizarre, funny, outrageous, indolent lives. I had to stop reading this book on the train because it made me laugh aloud far too much.