From now on I’m going to review the books I read. Sometimes there will be a few reviews a week, sometimes less.
First off is Anosh Irani‘s The Cripple and His Talismans. If you liked Slumdog Millionaire, chances are you might like Irani‘s earlier work, The Song of Kahunsha. The Cripple and his Talismans is more surreal, with forays into dreamland perhaps just a tad more than is necessary. The cripple in the story is on a quest to get his severed arm back. We are never explicitly given details about the accident leading up to the amputation that turned the protagonist into a cripple, since it is an allegorical construct for one’s burdens. As the cripple’s life is described, from birth to extirpation, we are given a glimpse into the fall of a boy’s life from the lap of luxury into the living hell that is Bombay’s streetlife. The incident that pushed him from the ranks of the rich into the legions of homeless amputees that haunt the streets of the world’s largest slum, is of course, the amputation of his arm.
We see several psychotic episodes by the cripple, episodes which should make you shudder, but your revulsion is tempered by sympathy for his condition. Then you realize that these episodes occurred long before the amputation and the revulsion returns. While not as graphic as stuff you can see and/or read in some genres of books, the knowledge that some of this is actually happening in some parts of Bombay or Rio de Janeiro as you read it pauses you for a moment’s reflection.
Heavy on allegory, punctuated by formidable religious symbolism and stitched together deftly, read this one if you want a more metaphysical approach to some of the most benighted people on Earth.