Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 1, 1998), 336 pages
May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month.
I caught a glimpse of the first line of this book at a bookshop and I was hooked. But it won’t be months later until I finally get to devour the entire novel. I wasn’t wrong. I knew the book would be unforgettable. Because days after reading it, here I am , still disturbed–both frustrated yet madly infatuated with the book.
I am in love with: the twins, Rahel and Estha, their youth and innocence slowly being surrounded by the madness of adult world. The story, though it seemed to be focused on them, actually skips to every character in the book (no person is missed), and just when you are about to be engrossed on this or that character’s story, like a spotlight gone amock, the story again re-focuses to either the twins, or to a different person.
I love the unusual simple narration, the use of ‘titling’ some words Like This and at times joiningthem atthehip is pretty amusing. The characters make a good combination actually. Twins that are inseperable, their single mother who loves them in a realistic way, the grandmother who spoils their uncle who was schooled in Oxford and loves to quote novels here and there, their grand aunt who seems to be a half baked antagonist.
I love how the characters do not fall into stereotypes. There is an abundance of political and social puns in the narration.
Now that he’d re-Returned, Estha walked all over Ayemenem. Some days he walked along the banks of the river that smelled of shit, and pesticides bought with the World Bank loans.
Too much detail, no matter how beautifully written sometimes overpowers a good plot. At times, I felt lost in the beautiful poetic jungle of details. Just when the story is about to be ‘cooked’ right in front of your eyes (and you are looking forward to it), a sudden chopping board-full of lush cool greens are doused into the pot, delaying the climax yet again. She seemes to be plucking at a beautiful fruit when its just 3/4 ripe.
Storytelling is an art, and many writers use various techniques. Such is the time travelling style. However, there is also proper(reader-friendly) use of it. Usually, this style will leave you confused, but in this book, it will leave you wanting to re-arrange chapters in the book because you know the story will flow more beautifully when told in a straight sequential line.
Many important issues are dealt with (racism, religion, caste system, communism and child molestation) but it seemed they are just brushed in passing because of the “swinging spotlight”.
Scenes and lines still come to my mind. They are all hauntingly beautiful on their own, but somehow when you piece them together, the chemistry is not exact.