Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Currently reading

Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Between The Assassinations - Aravind Adiga Short stories - really good.

Adiga can make you feel and smell and taste the poverty of India, through description and character, and it ain't pretty. But it's real. Or at least it feels real -- I've never been to India, so what do I know?

Heavy on bodily discharges of all sorts; and each seenscene (egads!) drips with almost unbearable heat and humidity. The filth is metaphorical too: corruption, physical pain, disease is everywhere; violence looms (although here, unlike in The White Tiger, it never erupts). Each character is desperate; they are hanging on to their last hope.

Each story illustrates a unique predicament, unified by the overarching despair and unfairness imposed by the caste system.

Each story ends with -- I'm sure there's a literary term for this -- a kind of unexpected twist that predicts but doesn't describe a decision or closure. This, plus Adiga's ability to get us to feel empathy for characters who really are hard to look at, hard to feel for because the tendency is to be repulsed by them or to distance ourselves from them considering them "other", really places him among the top tier of his contemporaries writing in similar ways/about similar places (I'm thinking in particular of Rohinton Mistry.

Lots of rich sociological insights and a deep humanism, but Adiga never bangs you over the head with the politics or economics, not even when he's referring very directly to real-world events.

I look forward to his next fiction, whether it's novel or short story form. He seems to work well in both.