Friday, 10 June 2011

The Solitude of Emperors by David Davidar

The Solitude of Emperors
I got this book from my bookclub and when I opened it I found that most of the rest of the group had not enjoyed it at all, which made me a little concerned, but I dutifully read the book. I was glad I did, because I really enjoyed it in the end.

What is it about:
Vijay, a young man from a smallish town finds a job at a newspaper in Bombay. Whilst there he gets involved in the Bombay riots of 1992-1993 and is injured, necessitating some time off work. His boss, Mr. Sorabjee sees that he is becoming depressed and sends him off to investigate some trouble in a Niligris town called Neham. There is a Christian shrine called the TOwer of Silence which is being targeted by a Hindu group. Within a couple of days he has met Noah, a slightly older man who lives in a cemetery and helps him with his investigation. He discovers that this shrine is going to be attacked on the next feast day and attempts to prevent this. At the same time he is asked to critique a manuscript by his boss, Mr. Sorabjee.

What I liked about the book:
It is really down to earth and nothing is brushed over. The author does not shy from describing anything or exploring feelings and emotions experienced by the characters. Even some of the comments he makes on social customs etc I guess could make you feel a little bit uncomfortable if you were part of that culture. He probes issues and really puts it all out there as to the motives of the people. (There is a large Indian population here and I could see quite a few similarities.) Even the scenes with the riots really had nothing left to the imagination. The story flowed relatively easily. Throughout the book Vijay reads parts of the manuscript and in this way the author is able to discuss some quite serious things without making it seem like a lecture or instructions.

What I didn't like:
The only real gripe I have with the book is that Vijay himself seems very dull. You want to shake him and tell him to get a life! This made the book quite dry and slow at times, however all in all it is still an enjoyable book.

I will definitely look out for more books by this author.

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