I have been brought back to blogging through, what is definitely my first love – reading. Of course, of all my blogs, the ones on #reading, probably get the least eyeballs – the most being for anything on travel followed by cooking! I am not quiet sure what this is indicative of, of the general trends in the world, or of those who live in blogosphere?
My reading preferences have been slowly drifting away from 'mostly current fiction' to areas of science, recent political history and to my stock collection of classics from the last century. But, the annual big event of the fiction world, the Booker long list was announced a couple of weeks back. And while the news is always covered in the English dailies, there is extra excitement when an Indian author is on the list – as Arundhati Roy is! Of course, there are 2 other authors from the subcontinent – Mohsin Hamid and Kamila Shamsi. While engaging in conversations with a fellow book lover, with similar reading tastes, the idea of a Booker challenge came up. And, so the target is to read all 13 by the time the prize is announced.
The next question – which book first? On what basis to go thro the list? I decided to draw lots and the first books I got were Reservoir 13 and The ministry of utmost happiness – the former hard copy and the latter on Kindle.
I have not read any earlier book of Jon McGregor – although I now learn that these very well received. This one has a lot going for it – it starts with the disappearance over the New Year week end of a 13 year old girl. She and her parents were spending the holidays in a small village, situated close to a number of reservoirs, dams and closed mines, providing ample scope for speculations regarding her fate. The community has a rhythm to life, largely influenced by the weather and nature – seasons come and go, the migratory birds arrive and depart, the sheep rear their young, the shearing season comes, the harvest needs to be brought in…….the disappearance does not upset this rhythm, but insinuates itself into the fabric of every day life. It is not a thriller, the investigations are as much a part of the daily routine as everything else – no body is found, the parents are distraught but remain aloof form the community, sporadic bouts of activity and interest aroused usually around New Year. Life goes on while subtle changes infiltrate the community through the technologies that arrive…..
And through all this, the brilliant prose and the lovely style in which short sentences flow into one another, kept me enthralled – waiting as much for the spring birds to arrive as for the mystery to be solved. As the story and the years proceed, you become part of the community and get to know all the members – their habits, quirks, likes and dislikes, their prejudices, the relationships made and broken. I enjoyed all of it – and will not give away the spoiler! Do enjoy it as much as I did.
I am half way through Arundhati Roy, but more of that in the next post.