Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lives of Others-Neel Mukherjee

Lives of Others-Neel Mukherjee

the facts
satisfaction: side/up
pages: 416
gender: male
nationality: India
year: 2014
novel

Family saga/epic set in Calcutta. Told in two threads-that of the Naxalite son and another of the various life stories of the rest of his family.

Dense. Really dense. There’s a lot of detail and a lot of melodrama. Of course, there’s actual drama too-the Naxal subplot is never going to lack that. There is a lot of change happening, to the family as well as to the country and the book definitely focuses on the personal impacts of national events. Each family member serves almost as an allegory for the national problems-drugs, marriage, caste etc.  And it’s all told with detail-lots of detail. For me, too much detail but I won’t deny that it was the details that brought the book alive. It really overall functioned as a constant exploration of class/caste and the inequalities of the society

However, I guess it really just wasn’t for me. I seem to not particularly care about family dramas- I can’t get into characters who are quite so bitter like family dramas require. And while a lot happened in the novel, I finished it with the sensation that not much was resolved or done. Which is a bit ironic. Maybe it was the pacing which was kind of meandering-there’d be moments of fascinating changes and the like and then it’d all slow down. I ended feeling like I was pushing myself to read the novel-like it was a chore only lightened by Mukherjee’s sometimes beautiful prose.

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