Lately, India has been involved in my consciousness as I read articles online, talk with students, chat with friends, and read books. Last week I played a round of disc golf with a man named Shyam whose family is from India or is himself (I'll need to play more rounds with him before I know his life story and he knows mine). It seems that no matter where I turn, India is there and I am gaining a greater and greater interest in the country and especially the culture of the people. Below is a review of one of the two books I've read recently that has a setting in India. It's Thursday, What Are You Reading?
No Country by Kalyan Ray
This book blew me away for it wide scope in terms of geography, and the depth of the cultures it explores. It starts in Ireland, at the start of Irish Potato Famine, following the lives of the best friends, Padraig and Brendan. Their stories are told, intertwined with the people of their village as they fight poverty, landlords, the English and eventually the Potato Blight. Brendan ends up in India and Pardaig in New England by way of Canada, and the book is only one third finished. The rest of the book details the lives of their descendants, but also tells the rest of their stories with family stories and lost letters. Brendan's line faces adversity related to the the British rule and the religious differences in India, that led to the formation of Pakistan. The characters are so rich and real that the reader gets a clear view of what it is like to live there. As the 20th Century spins on, the two family lines come closer and closer and the reader holds their breath, hoping and wondering if they will converge. If you are up for a long and wonderful read, full of vivid characters experiencing joy, disaster, dreams and trails, this is the book for you.
Here is an except from the introduction of the second chapter.
I was a small boy when the landlords' tax men came to deal with those who had fallen into arrears. I remember the fire. So lovely and terrible a hue. What God creates such a beautiful color and flickering shapes as it leaps and rules upon a cottage, completing its unroofing and ruin?