Showing posts from September, 2006
GhostwrittenBy David MitchellHere I am, reviewing yet another David Mitchell. I quite dig this chap – his stories are clever and interesting, his characters span a variety of timescapes and landscapes and he’s on his way to perfecting a narrative format that is pretty unique (at least I have not read another quite like this).
Ghostwritten is Mitchell’s debut novel. It was noticed almost immediately, winning itself the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. For a debut, it is a pretty ambitious book – as its sub-title reads, it’s a novel in nine parts. Nine parts that are as diverse as they come. From a cult member terrorist in Okinawa on the run, to a broken investment banker in HK, a record store salesman in Tokyo finding love unexpectedly, an old woman living through China’s tumultuous history in south China, a transmigrating ghost who finally finds her human body in Mongolia, an art thief in post-Soviet St. Petersburg who is double-crossed, a depraved musician and ghostwriter in London also fin…
Goa!Goa conjures up images of the sun, sand and sea. For many Mumbaikars, it is the idyllic getaway; the perfect antidote to the city’s traffic and noise, pollution and dirt. Goa is where Mumbai goes to refresh its soul, to recover from the daily fast-paced grind of big-city life. They say time itself moves slowly in Goa; almost the antithesis of Mumbai, where everyone seems to be in a terrible rush. It is almost a cliché – Goa is Mumbai’s alter-ego.
Over the years I have lived in Mumbai, I have had innumerable people tell me of their definitive Goa – the no-name shack that serves the best prawn balchao, the perfect hidden-away beach, the seaside café that serves the best apple pie, that little corner shop where you can buy the best grass in town. Each time I have heard this, I have listened to it with a bit of impatience. After all, I had been to Goa a handful of times and I had not discovered the magic of the place. Blame it on my indifference to beaches, the office conferences that …
Picture-postcard pretty Prague. The river, the bridges, the castles - like a fairy tale come alive. You almost expect Prince Charming to come in and sweep you off your feet.
An Artist of the Floating WorldBy Kazuo Ishiguro
Post-war Japan is the milieu. The protagonist and narrator is an aging painter, once renowned in Imperial Japan, now denounced in the period of the American occupation.
The book raises interesting questions. What is it like to lose a World War? And what is it like to have to look unflinchingly at your country’s past and your role in it and acknowledge that you and your country might have been wrong? And should an artist have a political role at all?
Masuji Ono is the painter and narrator who is at present leading a quiet retired life with his unmarried daughter in a Japanese city that hasn’t escaped the ravages of war. He spends his days tending to his home and garden and going out to the local bar with his drinking buddy. An occasional visit by his married daughter and her young son and the marriage talks for his younger daughter provide the only ‘events’ in his life. Yet these events precipitate the onset of darker memories, of a time wh…
Norwegian Wood

Haruki MurakamiThis is the book that made Murakami so famous in Japan that he had to take refuge in the anonymity of Europe and later the US. Norwegian Wood is a simple straightforward narrative with little of the ‘fantastic’ that is so much a part of his other novels. It is the story of a young man, Toru’s journey into adulthood.
Written as a remembrance by a 37 year old Toru, this story moves from school life in Kobe to university days in Tokyo. University life in Tokyo seems very Western – Toru reads Scott Fitzgerald, Updike, Thomas Mann and listens to the Beatles, Bill Evans, Cream, Simon & Garfunkel. It’s the late ‘60s and there are rumblings of the student unrest in the background, but there is never any intrusion of that into the story. In fact, there is very little intrusion of the outside world into Toru’s inner world. He does go out partying and picking up women with his college friend Nagasawa. But that is never the real Toru – he is most himself with his b…