Sunday, December 2, 2012

Book Review: Arrack in the Afternoon

I was told by someone that Mathew Vincent Menacherry's mother is a celebrated Malayalam writer but I am not too sure. Well, as for Menacherry's debut novel I still remember the lazy Saturday afternoon where I was reading a favorable review of his book on the Week and my friend, Kiron called me up suddenly asking me to recommend a book which he could redeem for a free coupon at the Landmark.

That was a couple of years back, Kiron bought the book, read it, liked it and lent it to me but it was not until a week back that I decided to read the book. After devouring it eagerly, I dont know whether I am too pleased.

While Arrack in the Afternoon has its dark humor in place and has an unlikely hero in someone- Varghese Konnikara- who has failed in everything and who is anything that a hero or a protagonist is- lazy, disinterested, spineless, well I could go on...

I really liked the way Varghese's life progresses is nothing short of a fairy tale...if it could happen to me, I would be thrilled. And Mathew's natural flair for satire comes through with the creation of the industrialist couple who owned a 30 storey building for a residence and the Bhai saheb who lives for Maharashtra.

But there are a few basic stuff I couldnt agree with- Mathew's fixation with his protagonist's physique which is described graphically everytime a new character meets the protagonist and the unnecessary pages dedicated to Patricia's backstory esp when she comes across as an irrelevant character in the way the plot unfolds.

That said, it is quite interesting to see how Menachery develops his character slowly but surely to a Godman who influences the city and the country at large and exposes his frailty as an individual in the middle of all of it. The finale where Varghese realizes who and what matters to him really and how he copes up with his loss makes for good reading. I however feel Menachery could have made this part a little more detailed considering it talks all about life in general.

Arrack in the Afternoon is humorous, satirical, philosophical, entertaining, kitschy...all rolled into one. It is definitely engaging reading but I feel with a little more care Menachery could have made it a lot more impactful. Still...not bad for a debutant!


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    Too many writers and few readers these days....Happen to get hold of Ravinder Sings books....did not know what to say.....

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