It is not often that you come across a novel that is screams quality and yet you feel slightly out of depth with it. I felt that way with this one.
Roopa Farooki is a name that I have come across before although this was the first time I was reading her. She has a way with words and is amazing at describing the most difficult situations.
Being a major fan of Indian writers, I knew this was one writer to look out for. Therefore when flying man caught my eye on the library shelf, I was determined to give it a go.
The story is about Maqil Karam, a man of many names, identities and addresses. It takes us through the building of the personality, right from his childhood, to the time when he grows up and ventures outside the family fold. Throughout we are told how the character thinks, his wanderlust, his inability to stick to a place or a wife and what happens to him in the end.
To be honest, I had other expectations from the book. I mistook the book to be about this guy who is a swindler and a crook.I was hoping to read about his exploits. Howeve,r the story is more about the effect it has on his family and the people he leaves behind.
Not finding what I had expected, it quelled my curiosity a bit. However, half way through the book, I happened to read an interview of Farooki about the book. The interview talked about how Farooki had drawn inspiration from real life - her father. Karam was her father who walked in and out of Farooki's mother and her siblings lives, often leaving them to fend for themselves.
Farooki took pains to explain that it was loosely based on her dad but the plot was original. When I picked up the book in the light of the interview, somehow it made more sense and illuminated the reading experience.
I enjoyed the second half of the book especially the characters of Samira and the twins. The writing style has always been great but now that I had the context to the plot, it made the reading more enjoyable.
- A great story. Farooki's narrative technique kept me going even I wasn't interested in the story.
- However, once I got the background story, the book became more enjoyable as it was easier to see Farooki's perspective.
- The way in which Farooki's describes the effect Karam's nature has on Samira and the kids is said subtly and the emotions are quite understated. I suppose that is the reason why they had a profound effect on me.
- The hindsights and the justification that Karam comes up with are quite spot on. Despite drawing heavily from real life, Farooki manages to give Karam a very unique personality.
- The jacket cover leads one to believe that the book is a spicy masala story about swindles and scams. On the contrary, it is more a tale of domesticity. I was misguided by a pre conceived notion and ended up feeling a bit disappointed. Thankfully, once I got the perspective, it became a more promising read.
This is her fifth novel and I safely say now that I enjoyed. it. I have come to admire Farooki's writing. Definitely looking forward to featuring more of her books on the blog.