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:
Next Story : Bestselling Formulae
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 tales, set in small-town Assam, speak of torments and desires, and are soaked in music
MAGAZINE December 08, 2016
Review
A joyous, clever, black satire references the entire African-American experience to make its point
MAGAZINE December 08, 2016
Review
Taslima’s solipsistic atomism jars, but one must admire her spirit in the face of slimy intolerance
MAGAZINE December 01, 2016
Review
The autobiography of one of our top scientists avoids scientific matters, or even the state of Indian scientific research. It’s just a roster of his many accomplishments.
MAGAZINE December 01, 2016
Cover Story
An extract from the chapter ‘Why did the CBI avoid (capturing) ­Sivarasan?’ from Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini Murugan’s ­recently released memoir, Rajiv Killing: Forgotten Truths
MAGAZINE November 25, 2016
read more>>>

OUTLOOK TOPICS :

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

or just type initial letters