Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

Indian fiction

Translated by Srinath Perur

Source – library book

I miss the old Man Asian prize because this is the sort of book I would have found via there longlist when it was running. I have always enjoyed the other books from around India I have read that have been translated. I know this one made a few end of year longlists. Vivek Shanbhag has written eight novels and a few plays, He is currently a writer in residence at the University of Iowa in America this is his first book to be translated into English.

Vincent is a waiter at coffee house, It’s just called that – coffeee house, The name hasn’t changed in a hundred years, even if the buisness has, You can still get a good cup of coffee here, but now it’s a bar and restaurant. Not one of those low-lit bar with people crammed around tables, where you come to suspect drinking may not be such a wholesome activiity after all.No this place is airy, soacious, high-ceilinged, Drinking here makes you feel cultured and sophisticated. The walls are paneled in wood to shoulder hieght. Old photographs hang on sturdy squarre pilars in the center of the room.

The coffee house is old but still hasn’t missed the changes in Modern India.

This book is narrated by an unnamed person talking about his family. we meet him initially in one of his favourite haunts a coffee shop, where he is a regular by the way he talks to the Waiter. The place is oak panelled and has a feel of the old India with old pictures of Bangalore where the book is set.The narrator is trying to untie what has happened to his family as he drinks his coffee Then we discover his father there spice business which has suddenly become the one everyone uses that has brought in wealth to him and the family. Then there is his wife Anita.She is the one that comes up with the title of the book a made up phrase her and her brother used when the Kite string got tangled up. That she uses when her new husband struggles to untie her clothes on their wedding night. This is a family sag in the piece the relation between wife, sister in law, father all have little tales in this lovely novella.

My impatient hands couldn’t get anywhere with the stuck knot. She tried, too, but to no avil.”Tchah”she said,” This string has become all ghachar ghochar.Wait” I stood there as she sat up, bent over the knot, and carefully teased it apart.

It came back to me later when we were lying there catching our breaths,”What was that you called the underskirt string?” I asked her.

She giggled” Ghachar Ghocahr” she said

The made up words of the title she used to uses with here brother .

Sometimes the best books come in around hundred pages.  The Great Gatsby, Heart of darkness. This is one of those vbooks that capture the Zeitgeist of there times and that is what happens when people move between classes in Modern India. This is a classic novella about people moving up the class ladder. Like Gatsby people feeling out of place, but I also feel at times Dickens is more apt there is something more in line with his work moving into the middle classes. What Vivek captures is a world that has changed it isn’t the male-centric world on the coffee shop walls no this is a new India was woman speak more than they use to and this is showing the waves that happen from a male point of view. He has constructed a number of strong female characters in this book. I pleased I read this one shame there is no man Asian prize to bring it to a bigger audience still

Advertisements

The lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The lowland cover by Jhumpa Lahiri

The lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Indian fiction

Source – Review copy

 

 

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations
I break down

I choose this Beatles lyric because sometime we do have to carry a weight for a family member

Well I ‘m going back here to late 2013 to review this book , I had a quick reread of it in bits over the weekend .I decide to finally review it because Lisa had ask me to join her in doing a Shadow Jury for the DSC south asian book prize , which I said yes as I had read two this book and Mirror of beauty (longest book on the list ) , I also had Noon tide toll on my shelves and could order another from Library leaving me one book to get when Amanda gets paid in a couple of weeks just before the prize .It’s nice to be judging with Lisa and Tara  .Now why didn’t I review this book , well it wasn’t that I didnt’ like it far from it was good but not stand out enough to be saved from Mount unreviewed .I had read Lahiri before both her short story collections , I was always nervous that her style wouldn’t work on the change from short story writer  to Novelist .Anyway to the book at last

So many times Subhash and Udayan had walked across the lowland .It was a shortcut to a field on the outskirts of the neighbourhood ,where they went to play football ,Avoiding puddles and stepping over mats of hyacinth leaves that remained in place .Breathing the dank Air

From opening page that gives rise to the book’s title the Lowland ,si near where the boys grew up .

The lowland is a classic story in many ways , a story of two brothers growing up , but also growing apart as they do so .Now the two brothers Udayan and Subhash , split apart from each other  one drawn into a world of politics the other drawn into a life far away from the India they grew up in .The brother drawn to Poltics Udayan is drawn to this protest at the poverty with in the country , this is 1967 and they are just following what had happened elsewhere in the world , but will it have a lasting effect on his life and his family , to a young wife and his parents .Meanwhile his brother Subhash has left to study in the but a moment of madness means , he comes home marries his brothers now widowed wife and returns with her to America , leading to a knock on for the next generation and the parents .

He was unwell ?

He was killed .

How ?

The paramilitary shot shot him .He was a Naxalite .

I’m sorry .It’s a terrible loss to bear .But no you’ll be a father .Yes .

Listen it’s been too long ,Why don’t you and your wife come to dinner one day .

Just after he lost his brother Subhash back in the US

Well The  lowlands , takes a classic story of brothers going  on different paths in their lives  .Then throws into it a real  event from  Indian history” the Naxalite cause “and the protest around that time .Brings this vast story down to the family level and looks at how politics ,l families and loyalty to ones loved ones .I loved that Lahiri managed to capture in a novel what she does so well in her stories and that is the interpersonal relationships between people on a daily level .At the core the brothers and the way the lives diverge but also cross each other again after one event leaving one gone and another with a new life and direction .I ‘m not sure it is the winner of the prize but it deserves it place on the DSC shortlist .

Have you read this book ?

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

the mirror of beauty

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

Urdu fiction

Translated from Urdu by the writer himself

Source – copy via Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Well I have raved about this Epic written by the renowned Urdu Literary critic , publisher and editor Shamsur Rahman Faruqi .He is the publisher of the well-known Indian Lit journal Shakhoon .This is his debut novel but he has in the past published a four volume study of the well-known poet Taqi Mir .The reason I held of on my review of the book is a feeling that this book would at some point get a Uk release but a few months on it seems not yet and I really want to share my love of this book .Which for me is easily the best piece of Indian fiction since and if  not even better than midnight children .

Wazir Khanam ,ALSO and perhaps better known as Choti Begam (Younger lady ) , was born around 1811 .She was the third and youngest daughter of Muhammad Yusuf ,maker of plain gold ornaments .She was born in Delhi but Muhammad Yussuf was not native to Delhi .His ancestors were from Kashmir .How and when these people reached Delhi , and what befell them in Delhi is a very long story .

The intro to the book explains where Wazir came from .

The novel is set just as India is changing the East India  company is gaining a foothold and the Mughal’s are still about  but their power is on the wain .We see this world through the eyes of Wazir Khanam ,she is a rare beauty and a rare women .Through the book she takes two lovers , also has two husbands along the way gives birth too a number of children among those is  Dagh a well-known poet .But this is his mother’s story she is a women that has lovers from both sides of the India she lives in both  British and Indian .She is almost a new women, not a figure we have been portrayed in other books about Indian  in this time ,no this is a strong-willed women that loves her life and her world and likes to be in control of it as much as she can .She first meets and marries a charismatic English man  called Blake, so  she moves away from Delhi but the marriage ends when he is killed and she returns to that  city .She then meets Nawab Khan and she also has many other lovers .This also sounds like a well lived but actually Wazir life is a battle and a lot of her loves end badly .But she loves her world the world she lives in is moving from the regal Mughal empire into the commerce and chaos at times of the British and the East India company .We see a world of painters ,carpet makers ,the desert of India  to the valleys of Khasmir and finally the chaos of the Metropolis Delhi through one women ,her husband ,lovers and children .We she her effect on the world a ripples in time and the people she touched and her family touch move in this changing India ,rather like the children born on the stroke of midnight in Rushdie’s midnight children Wazir and her family and friends move the world  of their time .

It took a great deal of argument before Wazir could persuade Marston Blake to approve the name Badshah Begam for their first daughter ,He refused to consider any other name than Sophia ,a name that identified her as a Christian .After a great amount of discussion in the first instance , he agreed to Masih Jan a name that was vaguely Muslim and could also be taken as Christian .

She cross the western and Asian world so well at times and fought for what she believed in

Well as you see this book some how captures a world now gone and little written about  .Faruqi is like an Indian dickens ,or even Hillary Mantel the lives touched in this book are the ones you don’t know a lot about ,the ones just down from the top Nobel men ,high-ranking officials but not the big ones ,but people near the top and how this women effect them and her .He captures a world I  loved that of the Darlymple books. But he brings it  to life of the page .I feel the fact he took six years to translate from his original Urdu book to this  English translation has made every word seem as thou they were written originally in English it is flawless .I feel this is maybe the greatest Indian novel and feel my heart sink that it isn’t even getting an Uk issue you can buy it via Amazon and I strongly urge you to buy it as like me you will no doubt be blown away by its beauty and world .Faruqi really weaves 19th century India he said in an interview his love of Urdu poetry at the time lead to the figure of Wazir and as he wrote he check up facts and built the story that way .I really enjoyed the arts and crafts described in the book from poets to carpet makers their jobs and lives opened up .

January 2018
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: