Burger Courtier

There is little to commend in this novel for which we must blame the generosity—or carelessness—of India’s burgeoning publishing industry
Burger Courtier
No Way Home
By Amarjit Sidhu
Penguin | Pages: 252 | Rs. 299

The tumultuous events of 1984 can, and certainly will, provide an emotionally charged setting for many a novel. But the traumatic backdrop of Bhindranwale’s rise, Operation Bluestar, Mrs Gandhi’s assassination and the horrific anti-Sikh riots is wasted on Amarjit Sidhu’s cliche-loaded No Way Home. Unable to mine these events for their human tragedy, he can only treat them as reportage. Consequently, his weak protagonist, Dave (short for Davinder) arouses no sympathy even when caught in the riots.

Advertisement opens in new window

Sidhu’s superficial narrative follows Dave as he chases his great American dream from Chandigarh to the US. After driving on interstate highways, drifting from one friend and shared apartment to another, staring wide-eyed at such American icons as a McDonald’s or a doughnut shop, he returns home with a “sense of the newness of re-recognition,” whatever that may be. His half-hearted attempts to discover Punjabi art and literature predictably fall on their face. Then 1984 happens and he escapes to Canada. Fourteen years and many nondescript jobs later, he returns to Chandigarh, only to find that no one’s holding his breath. So of course he departs again. Unless one is a travel agent, this breathless shuttling is likely to leave one unmoved.

Someone also needs to tell Sidhu that Mrs Gandhi’s body lay in state not at her residence but at Teen Murti House, that Sikhism does not have priests but only granthis and that it can be positively dangerous to believe that “traditionally, Sikh women can have no opinion....” There is little to commend in this novel for which we must blame the generosity—or carelessness—of India’s burgeoning publishing industry.

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, To comment please / Register
or use
Next Story : The Indus In Spate: A Book Of Omens
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store
A bright provincial boy gets cozened into being a godman, swings into the spirit of the pelf-and-power ring and then, inexplicably, gives it up all
MAGAZINE November 24, 2017
Ruchi Ram Sahni was an iconoclast who tirelessly attacked social evils and colonialism. His personal odyssey through pre-Partition Punjab is a treasure.
MAGAZINE November 24, 2017
An interesting addition to constitutional history throws light on Ambedkar, his life’s project on Dalit rights and his tussles with Gandhi and Patel
MAGAZINE November 24, 2017
An anthology of Indian stories picks gems from the hinterland, where old hungers meet new needs and where the possessed react to modern standards
MAGAZINE November 17, 2017
Shimon Peres’s dream of reconciliation with Palestinians amid silent guns lies crushed. But resolving that main issue is integral to the Zionist dream.
MAGAZINE November 17, 2017


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