by Kiran Desai
The 2006 Man-Booker winner has the sad misfortune of being like so many other Man-Booker winners, a tale of love, life, and loss during the rebellion in India of the late 1980's. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but after 2 years of reading all the Man-Booker winners I could get my hands on, Desai's tale didn't have a chance with me.
Once again the confusing myriad of political parties/players. Once again the heat and humidity dripping through the pages. Once again the repressed sexuality and expressed frustration. Yes, it had it's distinction in the New York sections of the storyline. But I still found myself thinking over and over again of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance or Family Matters or of Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things (still my favourite of the genre) and even of the BOOKER OF BOOKERS, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
I suppose on one hand it's fair enough that stories from the Indian diaspora, huge as it is, dominate an award that is limited to books published in former Commonwealth countries. And I do adore them or I wouldn't have read so many non-winners. All I'm saying is, having read SO many South-Asian novels I find it next to impossible to judge this one on it's own merits.
And that's probably not a good thing.