Book Review: Rustom and The Last Storyteller of Almora
Let me start this review with an ominous sentence: Indian writers tend to be bad at storytelling. I was wary of picking this book up but then I happened to real Parab’s “About the author”. Slightly overcooked, but he still had my attention. And then I thought, well, what the heck… let’s give it a shot.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about Gaurav Parab and his delightful little book. Winding through the journey of Rustom – a suicidal spoilt rich boy-man – the book is powerfully funny and poignant in pieces. After a long time I found myself savoring passages, word-play and the beauty of writing. I was reminded of Arundhati Roy – in many ways Rustom is a rough edged, slightly off and approximate version of The God of Small Things.
There are rough edges – for instance, there are too many short chapters and the book wasn’t really un-put-down-able. The frequent breaks become a little jarring but the beauty of Parab’s writing stands like a sheer silk mesh that keeps you hooked. Were it not for these minor faults, the book would be a masterpiece. I am marking Gaurav Parab as an author I am keen to read the next book of – which is more than I will ever say for almost any other Indian author alive.
It is a tragedy that the Indian writing scene has the kind of heroes it does. In another country, Parab would be a full time author and not merely moonlighting as an author with a day job. In another country, Chetan Bhagat wouldn’t have been permitted the attention that he has been, so far.
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