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The Smoke is Rising Hardcover – 20 Mar 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Daunt Books (20 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907970312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907970313
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.8 x 22.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 954,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A darkly comic novel . . . Rao veers between sharp, economic dialogue that can be both hilarious and disquieting. --Spectator

An auspicious debut – its comedy is dry and biting, its perceptiveness acute, and its picture of India ringingly truthful. --Neel Mukherjee

The medieval and the modern India are depicted here as co-existing, and Rao has succeeded in capturing this with delicacy and insight. --Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Mahesh Rao was born and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. He studied politics and economics at the University of Bristol and law at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics. In the UK he has worked as a lawyer, academic researcher and bookseller. His first novel The Smoke is Rising was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt Prize, the Guardian's Not the Booker Prize, and won the Tata First Book Prize. His short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize and the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest; his work has appeared in the Baffler and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Mysore, India.


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an enjoyably easy-to-read novel which draws you into the lives of the main protagonists (as well as the city of Mysore itself). Although the story is very much character driven, the author effortlessly evokes life in modern-day India (a society experiencing profound social and economic changes). The author's ability to describe the sights, sounds, and smells of India is remarkable. His descriptive ability is quite stunning. This is Mahesh Rao's first novel and given its quality it surely marks the start of what will be a long and successful career as an author. I was attracted to the novel for two reasons. First, it's setting. I'm currently reading a great deal of non-fiction about India's economic rise and wanted something else to contrast this with. Second, the plot appealed. It's topical because it reflects the profound changes that are currently happening in India. Rao has a light touch; he captures nuances and gestures which lesser writers would ignore or fail to appreciate. This means that what is left unsaid is sometimes as important as what is revealed. This is very much a novel to savor in terms of prose and narrative with some wonderful humor thrown into the mix - I'll leave you to discover all about Mysore's vision of the future: HeritageLand. I would describe it as languid and charming. The story lingers on long after the last page has been read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is an excellent debut novel from a promising new author. Its depiction of modern-day Mysore is both vivid and poignant, evoking a real sense of a city and a world in transition. However, set against his often critical portrayal of the "new" Mysore, Mahesh Rao's compassion and understanding of his characters is palpable, as the novel swings from humorous to heart wrenching, then to bittersweet. Underlying the whole novel - indeed, tangible in every sentence - is the author's gentle humour and ferocious wit, which ensures that the novel is not just a scathing portrait of modernisation, or a touching depiction of the cost to ordinary people, but is also and incredibly funny and entertaining read.
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Format: Hardcover
With dry wit and deft political satire, The Smoke is Rising paints a portrait of India which is at one moment laugh out loud funny and the next painfully sad. What stands out in the end is the writer's generous compassion for his characters, and his connection with the living pulse of the city in which they live.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is all about life in a small city in early 21st century India. It features a range of different characters in different situations in life, although all the main players have some type of unhappiness in common. Along with the portraits of individual lives, it also satirises broader politics and social attitudes. It is a good idea for a book, and in parts is witty and amusing, but is spoiled by being horribly wordy. Rao uses so many long words in quick succession it is really hard work to read. What should be a pleasure, becomes a slog. I felt quite exhausted after a few pages and just couldn't wait for each chapter to end, so I could put it down again. Definitely not how I want to feel when reading. I'm a well educated person and I understood all the words, it's just that jamming so many into each sentence ruins the rhythm of the prose. It doesn't flow, and so it's hard to read.

Some of the characters are likeable, but all are hard to get to know. As with many novels featuring big casts of characters, it is often hard to pick up the thread of each different storyline. Rao also keeps introducing new minor characters in great detail, even near the end, which is frustrating. He would have done better to focus more on the main characters. The clunky style really doesn't help as it acts as a barrier to empathy with the characters, and because I left long gaps between reading each part (due to reluctance to subject myself to another barrage of words), it added to the disjointed feel of the narrative.

Rao does tackle some important issues here and the story has sparks of effectiveness where it is moving or interesting.
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Format: Paperback
Mahesh Rao's debut novel speaks of our daily struggles to be heard, to be loved and to be recognised for who we are. It is written with the gravitas of someone offering wise and meaningful glimpses into age-old worries and with the language of someone who seems to have tackled them. Much as Rohinton Mistry brings vitality out of the seemingly insignificant, so too does Rao with his perspective of simple subjectivity and global perspective. This is a writer who sees people for who they are and who they want to be, a not-always-reproducable trick to carry out in any novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the India which the tourist doesn't see. It is a poignant story of suburban India, specifically Mysore, in transition from age old culture and customs into the 21st century. The writing, which has literary quality and is at times poetic, takes the form of vignettes of mainly only loosely related characters.
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