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Friday, July 06, 2007

Samrat Upadhyay's "The Guru of Love"

I haven't written an entry in a while. I really don't have an excuse other than the fact that I have been working on my website for work and continue to do so while reading at the same pace and not posting an entry here. Neither have I read or respond to any other blog. I did write, however, a response to the Islamic Fundamentalist new cry over Salman Rushdie being knighted, but I rather not post it because it is fair to say I would be sharing a fatwa with Rushdie and I am in no position to go into hiding. I plan to post it anonymously as a response on a political website soon. It's sad, really, not the way I had planned my summer holiday.

I finished reading "K: A Biography of Kafka" and immediately started "The Guru of Love." I read at a pace that was comfortable, keeping in mind that every time I get into such an engrossing story I tend to finish in a day an a half or so. The author, Samrat Upadhyay, is a friend of mine. He taught at Baldwin-Wallace College for a while. It was there that he gave me a copy of "Arresting God in Kathmandu" complete with a delightful dedication. He is a very nice man. At any rate, "The Guru of Love" is a sad story (depending on which character you decide to identify with) about a math teacher who falls in love with one of his tutorees. Ramchandra, the math tutor, and his student, Malati, begin an affair despite the fact that Ramchandra is a highly devoted husband and father of two. It is interesting how Upadhyay introduces the relationship--it is done so simply and lightly that one has to re-read the passage (i.e.: "did that just happened?"). Ramchandra can't hide the truth from his wife and when he tells her, his wife decides that the best thing to do is to bring Malati to live with them under the same roof. Along the way, many things happen that add so much to the plot it is nearly impossible to believe Upadhyay could write such a beautiful novel in just 290 pages. Furthermore, the economy and lyricism of language is enough to declare this the Nepalese "Gatsby." This is a novel to read and re-read; it is deeply affecting, moving, engrossing, and lyrical. (Samrat didn't pay me to say this, really).

I am presently reading Martin Amis' "The Moronic Inferno." This is a collection of "dated" essays about contemporary (1980s) America. There are some interesting takes on Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Phillip Roth and Truman Capote. So far, the essays read like lit crit, but I suspect that the later essays will be more about society and its problems, etc. Too early to tell but so far a significant read.

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