SUMMARY Ç Bombay London New York

SUMMARY Bombay London New York

SUMMARY Ç Bombay London New York ☆ First published in 2003 Routledge is an imprint of Taylor Francis an informa companyFirst published in 2003 Rout. In this book Amitava Kumar parallels the lives of emigrant Indians living in the works of Indian writers in English with anecdotes from his own life Rife with wit and nostalgia this work touches on the Indian ness of the Indian diaspora settled abroad Being an upcoming citizen of this community I couldn’t help taking trips down my own memory lane when Amitava strolls down his even though our experienceS might be some 30 years apart The poems were a bit off and I felt that the plot is unstructured at points but I would recommend this book to all Indians who are living abroad or ever wanted to do so


R Francis an informa company. was my first introduction to Amitava Kumar since I haven't got a chance yet to read his first few books and neither his last release Home Products But this particular one left me uite impressed and I intend to check up on his other works at a later stage What makes Bombay London New York not a title I particularly liked but with a georgeous cornflower blue cover the one I have uniue is that it is a book about books so plenty of references get thrown in with some literary criticism to chew over as well making this uite a bibliophile's delight A small part of the pleasure was to see the author referencing many of the books I'd read but it also helped in identifying several authors and works I was not familiar with So by the end of it I made a mental note of at least half a douzen books that I might want to take upSo is it a book only for literary buffs Not really Sure the author both by virtue of being a professor of English literature abroad and a well known writer is deeply passionate about books and even sees a lot of the world through that prism The influence of books is especially felt when he describes his struggle to become a writer In places where he talks about family and friends the book takes on the form of a memoir and for me these are easily the most engaging parts Whether it is his shame in growing up in Patna or his desire to experience a life abroad seeing the plush postcards that his Aunt sends him from US or his struggle to write there's a rare power in the writing that is as candid as it is touching This is a stage in his life when V S Naipaul and his books like A House For Mr Biswas and Finding The Centre have a deep influence on the author The former one is about a man's struggle to become a writer and his helpnessness while the second one is about moving to London after living in a village Both offer great inspiration to the author and prove to be catalysts in his decision of going abroad Even though the autobiographical elements are the most interesting parts of the book Amitava Kumar's real purpose through his work here is to touch upon several significant larger socio political issues in his physical scape And where ever possible the author tries to bring in a literary perspective either to give voice to a particular issue or to assess it from a critical stand point For example the book starts on a rather heavy duty note with the author taking a strong stand against the nuclear bomb testing under the Vajpayee government He refers to Arundathi Roy's criticism of it in her essay 'The End of Imagination' and how her writings had a definite impact paving the way for activism through writing It's obvious that Amitava Kumar believes in the greater power of writing as his admiration for playwright Safdar Hashmi and his didacticism suggests This is also one of the reasons that makes this book uite ambitious in scope The other central aspect that the author focuses on is the immigrant life Since the author is himself living this life he offers a perspective on both the personal and political side of things He speaks about the Indian diaspora attempting to preserve an 'idea' of an India that no longer exists At least among first generation immigrants India remains the space of wholesome purity Citing films like Taal and Pardes he says The grand portrayal of NRI nostalgia is emplematizes by the presentation of a single imagine the desirable Indian woman as an icon of docility and traditional charm one manufactured on celluloid as an updated image of the mythical Sita And this preservation of nostalgia the author believes is expressed by the diaspora through their support to the Right Wing parties BJP gets its greatest support from this segment he notes I am disturbed that the 'soft' emotion of nostalgia in the diaspora is turned into the 'hard' emotion of fundamentalism Some of these discussions are extremely insightful even if I felt that the first 50 pages of the book are very essayist in nature The literary references find the deepest resonance when he talks about his own journey and experiences There are various literary figures he discusses and how they impacted and shaped his personality One of them is Hanif Kureishi whose candid and liberal ideas on love and sex affected the author who himself was trying to make a connection with women Kureishi's book Intimacy about an extra marital affact made uite an impression on him Amitava Kumar doesn't use the opportunity to criticise any of his colleague's works but he does show his irritation with Salman Rushdie's use of stereotypes when he describes small town India or its characters The chapter essentially is about how it would be a mistake to see the small towns as a sleepy provincial place again as part of one's nostalgia and 'idea' of a village These places are rapidly changing he observes becoming aggressive than ever and changing the euation of politics The other literary observation that caught my eye was when the author asks Hanif Kureishi to compare himself with V S Naipaul and the former says that he likes women and sex an aspect that is always missing from Naipaul's writings Naipaul can't write about marriage is his crisp reply As I said the book's finest moments come when the author describes his own journey and the intimate moments he shares with a few people He isn't scared to bare his feelings even those that could seem embarrassing Also he's not judgmentmental or too harsh on anyone Not even in his wry description of Laloo Prasad Yadav whom he visits in Patna This could be because most of the times the author is in an insecure state fighting his own demons The Epilogue is curiously the high point in the book where the author narrates his friendship with a couple in US giving a glimpse into the immigrant life and the inability by most to disconnect from their past This is also true about his uncle and aunt a very poignant episode Amitava Kumar's book is undoubtedly rich with references and insights Also there's a great fluency to his writing that allows him some success even with a theme that is difficult to pull off Of course not everything about the book is perfect As I mentioned the first 50 pages are almost devoid of any literary connection so it's difficult to ascertain what direction the book is taking Amitava Kumar flits from topic to topic some even unrelated ones so it becomes frustrating to find the connection each time But the rest of the books flows well with some particular episodes really standing out My admiration for Amitava Kumar is mostly for his writing which I really think has a lot of flair and finesse Sandhya Iyer

Amitava Kumar á 1 SUMMARY

Bombay London New YorkLedge is an imprint of Taylo. 'If I were to write a novel in Marathi I would not be called an Indian writer in Marathi but simply a Marathi novelist the epithet Marathi referring only to the language' Is there any reason why when it comes to any fiction in English there should be an obsession with the issue of its Indianness p 24'In the lane behind my house every night I walk past road gangs of emaciated laborers digging a trench to lay fiber optic cables to speed up our digital revolution In the bitter winter cold they work by the light of a few candles' p 51