Monday, June 30, 2008

The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra

Title: The Romantics
Author: Pankaj Mishra
ISBN: 033039276X
Publisher: Picador/1999
Pages: 277/Hardcover

It is not one of my usual picks. My nephew left it over at my place. So I gave it a try. It is set in Benaras, India in the omtemporary times. It is narrated by Samar, a Brahmin youth who comes to Benaras to study. He seeks solitude but the opposite happens. He is forced to face his desires and come into terms with it. Love and delusion walk side by side here.

Here he meets Miss West, an English expatriate who has her own demons to kill, along with Catherine, the Frenchwoman who is responsible for the events. We can also see student unrest and the casteist Indian social structure which is deeply embedded in the psyches of all Indian people.

It is growing up novel where Samar is able to find what he is searching. When he comes back to Banaras after seven years, everything, everyone he has known has changed yet the city remains same. That is dichotomy of Benaras, the abode of Shiva.

Pankaj Mishra's debut novel is worth reading once.