SUCH A LONG JOURNEY

A first novel from Mistry (the notable story collection Swimming Lessons, 1989) about a family man in 1971 India who experiences a political scandal firsthand. Set at the time of India's war with Pakistan over Bangladesh, it convincingly dramatizes how an honest but naive man can be compromised by events he doesn't understand. Gustad Noble is a bank clerk faced with an assortment of family problems—an inexplicable low-grade illness of daughter Roshan; a son (Sohrab) who wins a college scholarship but refuses to accept it; and a nostalgic dream for a mythical golden age. Evocative instances of domestic humor and travail (Noble, for instance, decides to bring home a live chicken for a feast, with amusing consequences) and local character sketches (notably that of Tehmul, a man harmless but brain-damaged, whom we first meet ``directing traffic around the demon tree'') give way to undercover intrigue when Major Bilimoria, an old friend who works for Indira Gandhi's secret police, recruits Noble to receive mysterious parcels and deposit sums of money (under a false name) in the bank where he works. The plot thickens (dead animals begin to appear on Noble's doorstep) as domestic travail tightens (no medications seem to help his daughter) before scandal erupts. Bilimoria is arrested: it turns out he's either a sort of Oliver North, officially transferring funds to aid guerrillas in East Pakistan, or a crook. Noble, confused, his world in disarray, travels form Bombay to Delhi for a chilling meeting with Bilimoria, who is now near- delirious. The agent admits his guilt: he intended to line his own pockets and those of his friends, including Noble. Amidst revelations of gross governmental corruption, Bilimoria dies—but Noble survives as the war begins to ``liberate'' Bangladesh. A finely textured look at India in a time of upheaval.

Pub Date: April 25, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-40258-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more