Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bombay, mon amour

My love affair with Bombay (not Mumbai) has recently been rekindled by The Death of Mr Love by Indra Sinha. This novel, woven around the scandolous Nanavati murder case that rocked 1950's Bombay high society, captures the pulse of the city unlike anything else i read in quite some time. I particular, Sinha's descriptions of Bombay in the monsoon brought back horrific/ hilarious memories of my one and only trip to the city in 1996. A decent hotel was not to be found in the city because it had been taken over by vacationing Arabs who had come to see the rain. And rain it did. Ugh, wading through the streets of the metropolis i water upto my knees and just knowing that there had to be dead rats and what not floating around...

But it seems that i am not the only one currently lusting for Bombay. A quick boxing day browse of the local bookstore turned up an increible number of new books set in the city. I limited myself to buying only Maximum City by Suketu Mehta. Even before i read the reviews i knew i was going to buy this book, but it is reassuring to know that it has been voted one of the best books of 2004 at a number of different sites. The discussion on Amardeep's blog also peaked my interest, though i won't comment on the book just yet.

Now back to Mr. Love... i ust admit that i was not at all familiar with Indra Sinha before this book, though it seems that he has written at least one other novel. I quite enjoyed his prose style. Early on in the novel i anticipated (with some delight) that my knowledge of hindi literature would be challenged a bit by Sinha's name dropping .... Manto, Mul Raj Anand, Mohan Rakesh, but this trend faded as the novel progressed, which i guess i good for you average North American reader. And i also loved the reflections on the burgeoning Bollywood film scene. Exciting stuff for one such as me. Aga in this fades, so it is a good thing the story was so engaging, kept me turning the pages and wanting to know so badly what happened!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

more books...

Just before Christmas i finished reading Transmission by Hari Kunzru. I liked it a fair bit, but it was hardly the work of literature that his earlier novel, The Impressionist. In a way the two books could not have been more different. Transmission is set in the contemporary United States and chronicles the hardships of a young NRI computer programmer trying to make his way in silicon valley. It is light and at times quite humourous - kind of a chutney Microserfs. Things start to go a little arwy when our hero unleashes a computer virus on the world in order to save his job. But for me the real joy of this book came from its look at Bollywood. Kunzru skillfully captures the importance of Bollywood in the imaginary of millions of Indians without laughing at it. Instead we are laughing with it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Totalitarianism - the sunny side

Yes, it has been a while since i have posted, but i think that is part of my newly envisioned blog - you never know when you will here from me.

Right now i am on the middle of moving hell - packing. I cannot believe how much i have packed, and when i look around there is still so much more to go. When will it end i ask you.

Me being me, ther are a ton of books to pack. No surprise there. God i feel sorry for the movers. I am already upto 20 boxes and that's just the living room. But here come my newest pet peeve. Why aren't all books the same size? If we lived in a bibliomanical totalitarian society they might be. Or at least they would have a few standard sizes that conveniently fit into boxes. Ok, true enough, the trade paperback invasion of the mid '90's did solve the problem to a certain extent. But really trade paper backs come in about 3 sizes and i can handle that. What really gets me are the books that are an odd shape and size for no apparent reason. Yes, it may make your book look interesting in the store, but it will forever messy up the symmetry of my book shelves and drive me mental when packing. Do even got me started on cook books. They are the worst culprits of all. Out of our 20-30 some odd cook books, i don't think any are the same size! What's going on here? Let's try a little standardization before i move again, if i ever move again!!