Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is a note.

The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. More than poisonous rivalries among sisters-in-law, destructive secrets and the implosion of the  family business, this is a family unravelling as the society around it fractures. For this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change, the chasm between the generations and between those who have and those who have not, has never been wider.

I found this to be a weighty read - both in size and depth.

I was very grateful for the family tree which is included at the beginning of this book as I think I would have been quite confused by all the different characters, of which there are plenty. This enhanced my appreciation of the minutiae of the lives of the people in this household and whilst I cannot claim to have really liked any of them I did at least understand how they had become the people they were.

I like books which are set in India but I found very little in terms of the rich atmosphere which could have been a real asset to this book. I wanted to be able to drink up the sounds and smells of India but I found this sadly lacking.

However, this has been very intelligently written and the author has a clear understanding of the socio political factors of the time.

What I loved about this book was the way Mr Mukherjee's prose flows on the page. It is beautifully written with a poeticism I could lose myself in. I would read his other novel for that reason alone as this book has been well crafted and is simply lovely to read.

ISBN: 978-0099554486

Publisher: Vintage

About the Author:

Neel Mukherjee was born in Calcutta and now lives in London.. His award winning first novel A Life Apart, was published in 2010. The Lives of Others is his second novel.

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