Ghachar Ghochar (Vivek Shanberg)

After seeing Ariel Bissett’s review of this book I decided to get it. And I’m glad I did.

This is a book I can’t give 5 stars, I would like to give 4 stars but I’m really tempted to give 3 stars. This is a problem!!!

It’s a quick read at 118 pages with less than 24 000 words. I read it while commuting to and fro places, so it took me a little over two hours. It was a short read and it was a good read but that ending doe! That ending!!

The story is about a family who was living from pay-check to pay-check suddenly becoming wealthy and how that has affected their relationships with each other and the people they marry.

First of all, let me just say, I’ve never read a more entertaining book in my life. This book had me smiling from the first page and laughing on so many others. The book is written in first person view of – oh my god, I just realised I have no idea what the protagonist’s name is and I can’t find it online either – someone. But let’s just called him the narrator. I have never read a more useless character in my life and yet enjoyed his point of view. He is so useless as a person. He is such a turn-off and yet his voice is so engaging to read. It’s really interesting.

Everyone in this story is an ass. The mum, the dad, the uncle, the sister. God damn that sister.

Also, the patriarchy is strong in this one. It didn’t rile me but it did annoy me. But our character is useless. He’s never going to amount to anything in life for me to care about his blind eye to the patriarchal rules that were applied to his mum. And also, the mum did not find it oppressive because she did not want other things anyway. She did seek solace in the kitchen, in making tea – but of course according to the narrator. But I don’t think at any point she was forced to do anything. So there’s that. And also, our narrator nor his family was patriarchal to his sister or his wife. So that’s interesting to note.

If anything, the narrator’s wife is a fun character to read. I love the dynamics between the narrator’s mum, sister and wife. They hate each other and I live for that verbal drama. Nothing like some Indian passive aggressiveness that you just learn to live with.

giphy1

What I also like that this story does is that it leaves a lot to the reader to interpret. It doesn’t bother to explain in detail. Take for example what our narrator narrates after the family gets rich and moves to a new house.

As Amma and I went to each house, they all said, “Don’t forget us. Keep visiting.” At the age I was then, this seemed absurd. I had grown up among them – how would it be possible to forget these people. Now I see what they meant.

That was it. No mention of what it is our narrator saw. But everyone understands. There are abundant moments like this in the book where you can understand the character without him asking you to understand him. It’s what I love about this story.

Despite being short, time is not wasted in this story and the pacing is well done such that nothing feels rushed either. Everything about this story and its characters deserve four stars. They are so interesting to read and they have very interesting lives.

But.

I am not being shown the full extent of their interesting lives. There are a lot of loose ends in this story. That’s the thing. That’s the main issue. What on earth happened to our narrator’s love interest? Who the hell is Vincent and how much does he really know about our narrator and his family. Does the sister like this other guy. What on earth happened to our narrator’s wife. What kind of amoral man is the uncle. There are so many subplots that are just left hanging. And I want to know what happens but our narrator is so useless that I know it’s not in his character to go find out and I can’t fault him for it. He is an ass, that’s just who he is and he would burn if the story goes on any longer. Because the longer the story goes, the uselessness of the character really shines through and you start to feel a growing disdain for him. He is unable to shed light on the intricacies and stories of the other characters. So although what was initially good about this book, which is the narrator’s interesting style of narration and witty use of language, you’ll find it really was just a facade for the fact that he’s actually useless and blind to the stories of the other interesting people in his family. In his defence, he did manage to adequately convey facts about his family members that pique your interest. But that’s all he can do, as a narrator, he can’t live up to your expectations of these interesting characters because he has no clue about them either.

I want to give 3 stars for this protagonist and 4 stars for this story.

But anyway, I’m back on Goodreads and checking out the 1 star reviews. They make me laugh. Someone commented ‘why did he even write a book’. That’s just. It’s just so funny that someone would say something like that. Someone has that level of disdain for this book. They didn’t even bother with giving reasons as if there was nothing worth reading in this book. Oh wow. I liked this book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s