Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saraswati Park And Ride Along
One of the many ways that my I-Am-A-Lucky-Girl status is verified is by the boxes of books that friend S sends me from London. S writes for the cultural section of a large U.K. daily and therefore gets many, many free books sent his way. He is a generous, postage paying, book pushing pal and I am the grateful recipient of his largesse. A side dish perk of S's gifts is that many times I get books that either are not yet published over here and/or never going to be published here.
One of the recent books I received from S is Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph. This novel was released in July by HarperCollins U.K. Right out of the box I was attracted to Saraswati Park. I liked the cover and the description of the book from the publisher had me ready to read.
Saraswati is about a middle class family in Bombay. Husband Mohan is a professional letter writer. This is not a growth field. He gets some work putting pen to paper for divided lovers and families and the occasional check but he spends more and more of his time pursuing his real passion. He buy old novels from the secondhand stalls and scrawls away in the margins. His dream is step out of the margins and be a novelist. Mohan's wife, Lakshmi, is in crisis. She is in mourning for the death of her only brother and maybe for her marriage as well. The couple takes in their nephew Ashish. Ashish is troubled by his sexuality, unhappy romances and having to repeat his final year of college.
This is a kitchen sink kind of novel. The dramas and the humorous moments are small, intimate and happening to ordinary people. Most of the Indian novels I have read have been big multi-generational affairs with a cast of thousands ranging all over India's history. What a welcome change Saraswati Park is to my usual Indian diet. Joseph carefully introduces us to everyday quiet. The lives she examines are not eccentric, not flashy, not starting a dynasty or representing the history or future of a nation. These people are trying to find their way and with Anjali Jospeh's skills their journey is an exulting experience.
Is Sarawati Park going to be published in the U.S.? I haven't seen any indication of that, but maybe that will change. Here's hoping this fine book will be available here soon. It surely helps that the Telegraph selcted Joseph as one of their 20 best writers under 40 on the basis of this her first novel. Impressive, right?