Top critical review
One person found this helpful
on 23 March 2013
Where to start... I had no real idea what this book was going to be about. I don't think that I have ever read a book based in India before, but i read this as it was the book chosen for my book club.
The main emotions stirred in me by this book were disgust and confusion. The book confronted many different themes including gender, sex, drug use, religion, marriage, prostitution, crime, plus many others. This was all set against the backdrop of 1970's Bombay. Unfamiliar with the history, and quite possibly the culture of Bombay and India in general, I found it quite difficult to follow the story (the language used, the types of places mentioned). I believe this could also have been due to the writing style, which I found to have both positive and negative aspects. It seemed that there wasn't any real, solid story to the book, more a series of situations and events that occurred, involving various combinations of characters in various locations. This was something I found difficult to follow, becoming unsure who was talking at different points in the book. However, the authors descriptions were evocative, and I certainly formed images in my mind of how I thought places and people looked.
There were some very graphic, and disturbing scenes in the book involving drug use, sex (both consensual and non-consensual, in heterosexual and homosexual situations), occurring separately, and together. It mingles religion/sex/drugs together very closely which could certainly prove problematic for some readers. I equate some of the scenes in this book with the kind of scenes that occur in American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, graphic and difficult to read. Alot of these did not seem to have any real build up, or come-down, and were in some cases, just another thing that happened, told in quite a neutral tone.
I would say that it would be difficult to say I enjoyed this book, I found it difficult to become attached to the characters, or to feel empathy to many of them. It is quite possible that I missed the point of the book, as I realise that the book dealt with many difficult themes - however when the book ended, I was left unsatisfied, but not particularly wishing that the story would continue. Time shifts and character shifts made it difficult follow.
I did however enjoy reading it from the perspective that it was out of my comfort zone in terms of usual genres of books, and that despite the confusion I encountered (which could of course just be me being a bit thick!), the writer delivered many interesting thoughts, along side deep questions, interesting character conversations and vivid imagery, whilst also dealing with problematic themes.
I am unsure as of yet, whether it is a book I would recommend to others due to the nature of the content. Not for the faint hearted.