A new book – a novel! – by my good friend Amitava Kumar. Get it. Don’t delay. See here for reviews and so forth.
A film director asks Binod, who is a journalist in Bombay, to produce a portrait of a murdered girl, a poet killed by a politician by whom she is pregnant. The director wants a script about small towns, desire, compromise and intrigue. Probably he wants masala. Subtle and articulate, his sensibility shaped by the classic films of a high-minded and austere boyhood, Binod undertakes to draught a Bollywood story. Unlike Binod is his cousin Rabinder, in Hajipur jail and full of plans. Arrested for turning his cybercafe into a porn parlour, Rabinder is a doer, with dreams of entering films.
Home Products is the story of Binod and Rabinder, brought up as brothers, one a man of hope, the other of appetite, whose ambitions unexpectedly intertwine. As it unfolds, a complex world comes to throbbing life, moving from Motihari where Binod was born, and George Orwell before him; to the Bombay of film, imitation and enterprise; via Delhi, its calm shattered by an assassination and riots.
In the broad sweep of this stunning first novel, acclaimed non-fiction writer Amitava Kumar charts a tale of sexual anxiety and anarchic impulses in a society steeped in crime. Detailing the search among its members for order and artistic brilliance, written with extraordinary inventiveness, Home Products brings aglow the struggle against small-town beginnings. It reminds us gently, and incisively, of our anxieties as middle-class individuals in a middle-class nation.
See his weblog here