The Romantics - Pankaj Mishra
Just finished The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra.
This was yet another thought provoking Indian piece of fiction. English, August is another one that allows you to read a lot between the lines.
The Romantics is about a twenty year old who has a very narrow view of the world. Born and brought up in a small town, educated in a grade two city, he is now in Benaras to live closer to an university and eventually achieve the IAS dream.
He comes in contact with few expats, realizes that the world extends beyond Benaras and Allahabad and people could have lives that are beyond schooling, jobs and kids. He starts questioning his thoughts. His belief system, his upbringing and finally meaning of his life.
Apart from expats, he meets a student leader, tries to understand lief from his perspective and gets even more confused.
Through all this he falls in love with a French girl who in turn is planning to marry another Indian guy. A typical love story.
The writer has a beautiful style of narrative. The way he talks about things, objects, people, you almost start visualizing those things. He has also been able to capture the Indian thought very vividly in his book. A lot of subtle emotions, actions, behaviors have been captured very well. A lot of Indian authors falter at this. They forget all these minute details that make living what it is - living. Pankaj Mishra has been able to do justice to it.
The book is fun to read and very thought provoking. There is a huge part of the book that I did not understand (because of references to a lot of old not-so-famous authors). A part of me wanted to stop everything and read those books and understand their philosophy and the other part said I need to move on. I need to drift on. No points for guessing who won.
I would rate the book at 3 on 5.
Amazon page for The Romantics