Daily Archives: February 18, 2013

Book Review: The Cripple and his Talismans by Anosh Irani

The Cripple and his Talismans by Anosh Irani Title: The Cripple and his Talismans
Author: Anosh Irani
Publisher: 4th Estate, Harper Collins India
ISBN: 978-93-5029-603-5
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 232
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

“The Cripple and his Talismans” by Anosh Irani is a unique book. Of course I have read of books that have magic realism as the central theme and all of that, yet somehow this book seemed interesting and different from what I had read in the past. There was this urgency in the book that made me want to know what happens next and at the same time, a sense of stability that allowed me close the book after a couple of chapters and mull over what I had just read. It is almost confusingly therapeutic and disturbing when a book does that to you.

I had first heard of Anosh Irani when I encountered him in one of his sessions at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013. Before that I am surprised that I hadn’t heard much about him. Maybe I was too busy exploring other writers. However, once I got to know about The Cripple and his Talismans, I had to read it. It seemed too intriguing and inviting. At the same time, it was first published in 2004 and only published in India now, in 2013 by Harper Collins. So that is in brief about what dragged me to reading this book.

“The Cripple and his Talismans” is like the title suggests, about a cripple. A man in search of his lost arm. He wakes up one day and his arm is missing. Along the way on his so-called conquest to find his arm, he meets a variety of people – a woman who sells rainbows to a coffin maker to a giant, to a homeless boy riding the trains, which all lead him to one person – an underworld don at that, and the only one who can tell him about the clues along the way and explain the dilemma he is in.

All the action takes place in Bombay and that to me was the crux of the story. The city, its smells, the places make for the crux of the tale. To a very large extent, while reading the book, I was wondering about how Anosh now lives in Canada and all his books are set in the city he was born and grew up. To me that says a lot about the writer. More so, this being Anosh’s first book, it is quite experimental and adventurous for a first book and the same time, it is very-well written.

The journey of the man in search of his missing arm is often hilarious, sad, and at the same time human and absurd. Anosh mentioned about this book that it came to him in a dream, almost a vision, where he saw a basement, and arms hanging from the ceiling and he knew that he had to write this book and he did.

“The Cripple and his Talismans” is not an easy read. It demands a lot from the reader. The writing is simple and yet the situations aren’t. The characters jump off from every page and take the reader unaware. The writing radiates, teeming with the city’s boisterousness and energy and its laziness sometimes on a Sunday afternoon. To read something like “The Cripple and his Talismans” and not get affected by it, by its sheer magnitude, insanity, and almost a shock-like quality is not a possible feat.

Affiliate Link:

Buy The Cripple and His Talismans from Flipkart.com

Book Review: A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers Title: A Hologram for a King
Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0241145852
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Whatever Dave Eggers writes, I read. I read what he writes, because he is superb at the craft and knows what he is doing to a very large extent. I was first acquainted to his works when I picked up “’A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” on a lark and loved what I read. So much so that I would eagerly wait for his next release and lunge to the bookstore for it. This was way before Flipkart and it was a lot of fun. From that time on, Dave Eggers has been one of my favourite writers and he doesn’t disappoint at all.

“A Hologram for the King” is his latest offering and according to me it is one of his best works (barring A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). It is set in a rising Saudi Arabian city. Alan Clay, a consultant is trying to get his life back in order (after being a failed businessman), through a project in Jeddah. This is his last chance to turn his life around, pay for his daughter’s tuition fees, worry about his ex-wife and his health all rolled in one. He is waiting. For King Abdullah, in the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) so he can pitch the project to him and cut a deal and become what he wants to – successful. He is looking back at his life (past and present) throughout the book, waiting for things to change and life to turn around for him. That is the plot of the story. There are various characters that keep going in and out of the plot and in most ways are essential to the book, however I will not reveal that to you, for that I recommend you read the book.

“A Hologram for the King” is a sparse book. It is not detailed the way his other books have been, however I had no complaints while reading it. The sentences are simply put and yet the emotions behind them are layered and complex. No scene seems out of place and Eggers ensures that the reader is involved in the story for at least most of the book. Dave explains the steep economy of America and in explaining a part of Saudi Arabia, he tries to compare the situation with the rest of the world and the impacts a common man like Clay faces. There is a lot going on in the book. At most times, the book reminded of “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, given the situation – a common man waiting for things to change and life to take a turn back to how things were, and yet how difficult it is to do so.

The book is not depressing in the least. The writing if anything is only sarcastic and biting and yet manages to be emotional at most times. He takes the character of Alan Clay to another level – in making the readers see the desperate measures and the restraint, the allegorical levels in the book and the way the mind and the country can go to ruin (or so it seems from the writing) is beautifully expressed. At any point, I did not try to find happy moments in the book because I knew maybe that there wouldn’t be any. There are glimpses of hope nonetheless and before you know it, you are hooting for Alan and hoping that things work out for him.

Affiliate Link:

Buy A Hologram for the King from Flipkart.com