1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Race, identity and empire,
This review is from: The Impressionist (Paperback)
This is the rollicking tale of Pran Nath, the spoilt and cruel son of Pandit amar Nas Razdan who is besotted by him - and is especially proud of his son's pale skin. But Pran is in fact the son of a British officer and this is revealed by an angry servant. Pran is thrown out and is soon destitute but is taken on by a brothel. Then follows a series of adventures during which Pran takes on different identities. His good looks and sharpness of mind attract him to many and eventually he finds he can often convince colonials that he is English. He eventually arrives in England and assumes life as an aspiring Oxford scholar.
In all the roles he plays he lacks any sense of commitment (eg to Indian nationalism, politics, support of friends). His aspiration to assume an identity seems to prevent him from developing as a full human being.
The Impressionist has lots of observations on race, empire and identity. It is very satirical on Anglo-Indians and other castes and classes - no-one escapes! I loved the reference to Major Privett-Clampe's gin sundowners and how this drink had gradually inched forward in time to nine o'clock in the morning!
An excellent read - though I was not really happy about the ending which I thought was a bit vague.