by Karan Mahajan 2008
I could feel the experiential quality of Mahajan’s depiction of the sweltering, chaotic, frenetic capital city of India. The same energy whips through his characters. Contradiction thrives, chaos rules, and the modern blends with the ancient with a logic and singular Indian-ness all of its own. The quirks and comedy of globalization shape the story of the Urban Affairs Minister, Rakesh Ahuja, his American stint with his first wife, his “switched,” perpetually pregnant wife and their thirteen children. His sexual appetite finds a parallel in his teen son’s own raging hormones. Arjun’s main focus is form a rock band to impress a girl and to distance himself from his family. Mahajan’s indulgent debut novel and satire jabs at Indian-style democracy, random politics, corrupt officials, hybrid English, pop-culture, the nation’s obsession with its TV soaps, and the sometimes simplistic American attempts to understand a nation that can neither be neatly boxed nor labeled. This giggle-quick read is astute, authentic and absurd!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010