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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Indian Love Story

I just pounded it out this afternoon. As soon as I started it, I knew it was not going to be a good book, but I am fascinated by the perspective. To best describe it, I would say if you ever want to convince someone never to go to India, especially New Delhi, give them this book to read. The entire thing was about drugs, alcohol, and lots and lots of adultery. It was basically a romance novel, but without all the explicit parts. The sex is all implied. Similar to The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay, this novel, novella really, is about the Indian perspective of love. I think that is why I kind of struggle to get my mind around it. On so many levels it is trying so hard to be just like every other trashy Western Romance novel, but if you really look at it, it is so incredibly Indian. No one writes such crazy, destabilized romances like Indians do. I do not like broad declarations about groups of people, but from what I have observed so far in what I have read, seen in movies, and witnessed first hand, Indians really struggle with the concept of love. It is either tame, devoted arranged marriage, or psychotic, usually tragic, romances. I mean, in many ways American romances are no different, but in India, it feels like you either have the equivalent of a Hindu Mormon Message or an Indian soap opera. I didn't hate The Great Indian Love Story as much as I thought I would. The characters were completely flat and predictable. I never liked them. A couple of them died (of course), but I never felt bad. The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay, while also not a terribly amazing book, is basically the same kind of story, but far better.

This is the second work of fiction in a row that I have read that features a female protagonist who grew up in India, went to school in the United States and then returned to a "foreign" India. It is kind of an interesting perspective. Now I wonder if this is some sort of sub genre of Indian fiction. The copy I have was actually meant to be sold in India, so I am curious as to what kind of people read this sort of book. It was all about rich people in Delhi having crazy parties and sleeping around. Is the desire for this kind of thing from Indian repression? Most of the Indian fiction I have read so far has been fairly literary. This is the first work I would describe as "trashy." I have purchased all of them so far, well, most of them, in the United States, so I am wondering if that has a filtering effect. Is most of the fiction that is popular in India trashy, easy fiction? I think I finished this book in less than four hours, more like three. It is not difficult at all. It is similar in that way to Chetan Bhagat, another terrible, terrible, yet immensely popular Indian author. I wish I had another year to read and ponder all this to put my project together.

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