Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

Burmese days : A review

September 12, 2016

On 8 June 2016

A review of Burmese days by George Orwell
The most unflattering account of India and its people is there in ‘Burmese days’. The authenticity of the book is stunning. George Orwell saw things far more clearly than even Forster, who totally ignored Hindus for they appeared mysterious to him, besides noting passingly Dr. Godse.
On the reverse side, the Gorge Orwell’s book presents the colonials in even poorer light. The true nature of colonialism and its soul-sapping decadence and corrupting influence on both the parties is pity-provoking.
You simply can not detest the British underclass, representing the face of colonials in India. They are capable of inflicting the severest violence on the natives to prove their loyalty to the Raj and win promotions, while they are distressed by their financial worries, childrens’ education or their future, once they complete their tenure in India.
For the ones not married yet, finding a suitable English match is almost out of question. At best they will find a woman who is considered too low in Britain and fit to be a servant only, or fit to marry a British man serving in India.
Then you have orphaned and destitute English young woman coming to India looking for a husband.
(Such was the tyranny at home–Towards which he was drawn ‘Like a moth to a flame” in the words of BBC–and Orwell went out looking for it all over the places to begin his revolution.)
The prospects of joining the retirees’ ghetto of British-Indian servicemen in England is the another loathsome inevitability at the end of a such a career.
That is, if an uprising of natives does not annihilate them before that.
They drink and indulge excessively to keep their minds off the dirty work they are doing here in most cases. Then there is the fear of tropical diseases.
From the first sentence it holds you by your neck and hits you with brilliance almost relentlessly.
He was disillusioned of his job and despaired as a writer to almost kill himself by smoking while writing 1984. He had weak lungs and a TB and lived a life of exile mostly. For his writing rendered him an alien in Britain.
To this day few writers have the courage to follow his legacy and Britain reads and produces occult-fiction or mommy porn mostly, if it not regales in foreign cultures.
The concept of home guard he suggested and the government adopted during the WWII gave him a hope that a revolt will take place in Britain itself, with millions of armed civilians. But he failed to see that British people were incapable of it, being very tribal by nature.
Before that he joined the Spanish civil war to fight the tyranny and got nearly killed. His personal life says that he was a born revolutionary with no true comrade. So writing was the last resort to him though it earned him very little to ever get settled in life. Today his works earn millions of pound in royalties.
What is the most appealing about Burmese days is the intimate scenes between Flory and his Burmese mistress in the earlier part of the book. The hostility and mutual distrust among them is total. Flory needs her to relieve his carnal desires and she needs Flory to extort money. They hate each other as much as possible otherwise. Once this relationship fails the woman turns vindictive, prompted by the villain and finally destroys Flory. The villain is a Burmese in British civil service who is against Flory because Flory supports a South Indian doctor for the membership of the club, where only one Indian will be entered to make it look more egalitarian, as per orders from higher commands.
It divides the members of the hitherto all white club, who sulk at the prospects of having an Indian now in a all white club. Now they want the one closer to them. It makes Flory an enemy of the rest of the whites and the other wannabe for the membership: the Burmese villain, for he clearly supports his friend the South Indian doctor for the membership.

It is the most forthcoming narrative of the writer where he doesn’t hide behind many symbols or allusions. Which is the case with his later work which was more celebrated than his first.
Though it is about Burma rather than India, it is almost about every country ever colonised.
The ending disappointed a bit. For neither Flory is that sensitive a soul to commit suicide after killing his pet dog when he was rejected by Elizabeth for the second time after his disposed Burmese mistress creates a scene in a church gathering. He was never that proud of his Englishness that the rejection of an English woman, who is an orphan and a destitute and is desperate to find a husband in India after finding none at home.
On the part of Elizabeth too, the second rejection of Flory is too much over done with. More so since she already rejected Flory for the same reason earlier and then accepted back after she herself was rejected by the military officer Varrell, who she and her aunt were prospecting for her husband. Flory was rejected first time as soon Varell arrives in the town and is accepted back as soon Varrell leaves without saying a goodbye to anyone after his month long stay in the town, during which he took out Elizabeth almost every evening but never proposed the marriage Elizabeth wanted from him so badly.
In the meanwhile the uncle who gives her shelter in Burma has repeatedly tried to rape her.
All British characters are too practical in the book for they are from the underclass at home and are out there to make a career in British Raj in India. When they appeared inordinately principled in the end of the book, it looked disingenuous to say the least.
If it was created to make the end dramatic it has failed completely. If it was done to uphold the uprightness and pride of British colonials it again fails miserably. For the book gave away a great deal earlier on that count.

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Worst book of the year?

December 23, 2014

Which was the one for you? The Reason?

Balzac Meets Naipaul in Nepal

October 23, 2014

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1074967638?book_show_action=false&page=1

The Royal Enigma

October 2, 2014

Nepal is an enigma to outsiders but a new novel opens a stunning window into the country and its society.

It is a story of the life of Nawin spanning many decades, with him shifting between Nepal and India often; and jobs, in search of a stability. Because the life around him he discovers to be exploitative and violent. The wide spread corruption and political violence was particularly unsettling.

He withdraws almost from it, unable to fit in. To find a solace in very occasional meeting with one of his colourful friends. Nawin violently spits out his venomous feelings to Dilip, his journalist friend, who is finally making a living out of his profession, whenever they meet. Dilip has grown wiser than Nawin, in his middle age, to make the best of the things as they exist. Nawin feels betrayed by Dilip.

It brings the conflict between them, which was not there earlier. Nawin almost abuses Dilip with his talks, whenever they meet, more recently. But it does not make him feel any good later.

Among all this Nawin also feels remorseful, for his inability to look after his very old step-mother and her son with mental invalidity. His second way of finding a solace, apart from abusing Dilip, is in visiting his step mother and her son once in a while. For the emotional pressure of living with them once again makes him run away to his banal life in the city.

This shifting of place or life between different people has defined Nawin’s world. Every time things look more complicated than before, whenever he returns to them. There is nothing much else of importance than his own circumstances for him. It is a solace that the world around too is in no lesser turmoil. The Maoist war and political assassinations do not perturb Nawin. He knows it is a logical outcome of the things as they are. They could have been different but they are not.

The Nepalese life is described authentically both in urban and rural parts. Particularly when the Maoist war was engulfing it, in the aftermath of the royal massacre. This novel is an interesting native voice.

Bipolar Disorder

July 16, 2014

BD is a good tool to have to deal with the world. So far I have only developed a split-personality. I hope to evolve.

A literary death

June 27, 2014

Typically a British literary affair. An immigrant author given a literary prize for also making other than literary achievements. To be an activist of any cause is the death of a writer. Salman should take it as a warning of his waning as a writer. People have started writing his obituary and his books could be mentioned only as an after thought.
But he has had a windfall too, in terms of marrying slim women always taller than him, and holding them by their thin waists like a trophy, while being photographed in his bow ties and a wicked smile. He was perhaps not as ugly as people thought he was. It all evokes a sharp pang of envy, to think about his career in those terms, except his work.
But he has always been so loved one of British literary establishment. He has even won a booker of a booker. One remembers his interview to BBC, appealing the power that be at it, for one thing or another. He made some really shrewd career moves to be.
So it was a career worth learning from.

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/jun/20/salman-rushdie-wins-2014-pen-pinter-prize

On in-laws

June 25, 2014

Tulsis were a hilarious lot as in-laws of Mr. Biswas. It looks as if his life was spent defying the domineering Tulsis. The family being almost Matriarchal, every son-in-law joined it, to render his services to further the name of Tulsis. Being a rebel, Mr. Biswas suffered Tulsis but walked out often, unlike other sons-in-law.
In ‘The mystique messieurs’, Pandit Ganesh nearly bargains every penny out of his would be father-in-law as dowry, and does not dedicate his only book to him, many years later. The book answers the Hindu religious questions in a matter of fact way, and helps in establishing Pandit Ganesh’s political career. But he was to migrate to London.
Naipaul does well to deal with the Hindu in-laws he knew. But he spared his own English or Pakistani ones.
The in-laws have made a fortune while escaping malaria or diarrhea. I mean the beginning was as humble for them. But the father-in-law dies in a car crash. It was a trendy Japanese SUV he was driving on the highway. Dilip says his father-in-law must have looked upon his death with satisfaction, from the heavens, for his humble beginning. The bonus was a few column centimeters of news in the national daily, his car accident also secured, with the brand of the car also mentioned.
In ‘The royal enigma’ it was a disappointment, that his father-in-law could not begin a political career, for Dilip, as he might have liked to die in a crash of a private jet….

Smart writing

June 22, 2014

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/689236844?book_show_action=false

Faking emotions

June 18, 2014

His work was like faking emotions, to calm or create the anxieties of the society about it. Just like a woman faking an orgasm, to manipulate her man.

The underclass lover

June 13, 2014

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/447166