Sometimes one is turned off by the sheer size of the book. What I mean is the number of pages a book has. The Story Of My Assassins by Tarun Tejpal has 522 pages. Phew. I had been reading it for the past two weeks but the last Saturday proved to be a boon. The rains causing a mini storm outside, no internet and no dish TV, I had no option but to sit and read the entire book. Which, mind you I haven't done in a while. Must say, It was worth it.
Tarun Tejpal's The Alchemy of Desire had me salivating for more. I am glad that I discovered the book. The language was lucid and the book, brilliantly written. Therefore, as his next book released I made sure I bought the hardcover copy.
The very beginning of the book is promising. Tejpal is a master with his words as he mellifluously paints images of 21st century India only to sardonically comment on them as we proceed. One can describe the book as a multiple layered story that works its way through the Indian sub-continent, its double-faced spirituality and hypocrisy in the garb of religion and the very visible and yet, undoable the divide of language, wealth and class.
But there is a glitch. If I compare this book to his first, which I do inadvertently, I am a little disappointed with the flow of the story. It has left me confused in bits and pieces like when Sara decides to find out about the so-called-assassins. The story goes off in some different tangent altogether. I do not understand that why he have to go into flashbacks so many times. The description of the Muslim bastiwala pondering upon whether they would go to Pakistan or stay back in India, reminded me of Khushwant Singh's A Train to Pakistan. Reading this bit, I completely forget the beginning of the book.
It is all of course very well written. But I find it useless as even though Tejpal writes beautifully, he sometimes goes overboard with the descriptions to create an impact. It gets too much to digest. Some characters like Sara, Guruji, Hathoda Tyagi and Dubeyji, are well rounded characters. You can visualize them vividly. But characters like Ghulam, Kabir's gentle Muslim father, who alienates himself and his son from their religion and any other kind of politics, Kabir who is reduced to sculpting chuzas out of wood, seem to have more scope but left in the middle.
Overall, I would say, the book is brillantly written but does not and cannot compare itself to Tejpal's first. The fast few lines however;
"Small minds: discuss people. Average minds: discuss events. Big minds: discuss ideas. Great minds: work in silence," are brilliant.