Saturday 27 August 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

Nouvelle Mess

A trying, consciously Indian effort
Moonlight Into Marzipan
By Sunetra Gupta
Penguin India Rs 125; Pages: 170
MARRY Woolf with Weir, pop passion with piffle politics, tortured memory with twisted metaphor and what you get is Moonlight Into Marzipan. Sunetra Gupta's first work Memory of Rain was a washout. Neither novel nor nouvelle.

Gupta seeks to avoid making that dreadful mistake this time round. She's consciously nouvelle: memory lines crisscross across Britain and Bengal, masjids and monsters, godwomen and ghosts, Alexandras and Anyas. Oh yes, there is the mandatory Indian voice here. As slithery, sickening, smooth as the "pondslime" Ms Gupta seems to have a Freudian obsession with: quantities of which she has dredged up, dressed in tired Thesaurus-sic Park prose and presented as "literary" work; one that wide-eyed reviewers will hail as "uniquely Indian, redolent with the smell, the sound, the quintessence of India".

Instances of the Indian touch: a narrative peppered with references to Ramayana and rasogollas, Orissa and Shantiniketan, joint family and chapati. And lest she be accused of lack of cinematic vision, literary range, sweep, Gupta grasshops. Madly.

Moonlight Into Marzipan is so "rich", so "layered", and oh so torturously "textured" with Bengali characters like Yuri, Luna and Sputnik Sen, British oddballs like Sir Percival Partridge, Latino lover like Juan Gorrion (shades of Don Juan de Marcos though Depp was deeper even as cardboard and paste cinema character); a story that takes us into as the blurbs might put it "worlds as diverse as Orissa and Oxford".

A wafer-thin storyline is saddled with subplots that collapse upon a centre that does not hold. Characters are stifled into caricature. Good prose could have redeemed the bad plot. But sample this: "Images unventilated all these years steam softly as they are dragged out from the humid recesses of my memory...my many laundered thoughts, yours to fold and crease, and even to dye that the patches might be hidden in the flawed remembrance of a tropical blue." What is this book doing in the bookstores? It should be taken to the cleaners.

READ MORE IN:
AUTHORS: Sunil Mehra
PLACES: UK
SECTION: Books
SUBSECTION: Reviews
OUTLOOK: 20 December, 1995
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
These pacy thrillers put two southern cities on the crime map
MAGAZINE August 24, 2016
Review
The dark world Harry & Co inhabit changes little after 22 years
MAGAZINE August 24, 2016
Extract
How a brutal LTTE directive was lost in the static of intelligence
MAGAZINE August 18, 2016
Review
A RBI governor remembers his doughty fights, but cuts down on the math
MAGAZINE August 11, 2016
Book Extract
Abused by a relative at six, Laxmi saw how patriarchy tried to crush her femininity. And she made it come back to crush them, ‘those straight men with wives and kids’.
MAGAZINE August 10, 2016
read more>>>
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
POLLS

In 1999, India and France entered into a $3.5 billion deal for the supply of these submarines. The first of the 6 subs is out on sea trials for the last three months and is to be commissioned later this year. At this stage, a newspaper in Australia has revealed secret data on the submarines, plausibly stolen from India. Indian Defence authorities have ruled out any pilferage of data from India.

POLL STARTED ON: Aug 26, 2016
Quiz
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016
Advertisement