The Great Indian Novel

Shashi Tharoor, Author Arcade Publishing $19.95 (423p) ISBN 978-1-55970-116-7
The delightfully suspect and satirical tone of Tharoor's title informs and enlivens his monumental tale. In an opening disclaimer, the author cites the Mahabharata , an ancient Hindu epic, as the source of his inspiration. The story he retells, however, is also a thinly veiled account of the people and events that shaped India during the struggle for independence from British rule. Tharoor recasts these in a mythological, fictive realm, skillfully interweaving elements of traditional Eastern and Western literature. The epic, the sonnet, the novel and the folk tale all help to shape the narrative, just as history and myth, dream and reality intertwine in every chapter, calling into question the validity of categories. ``One must be wary of history by anecdote,'' warns the narrator; one must be wary of ``history'' itself, suggests Tharoor. Despite his stereotypical treatment of British and Indian characters, he animates history with the imagination of an artist and the philosophy of a sage. Throughout, Tharoor appropriates titles, phrases and figures from the work of a pantheon of ``first-world'' writers, ranging from E. M. Forster and Rudyard Kipling to Ernest Hemingway and Arthur Koestler (and even including his contemporary Salman Rushdie)--a subtle but potent reversal of the traditional tide of cultural colonialism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 423 pages - 978-1-61145-318-8
Paperback - 423 pages - 978-1-55970-194-5
Hardcover - 423 pages - 978-0-14-012049-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-62872-159-1
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