16 January, 2021

A Gothic Patchwork

Jha's self-conscious, collegiate tone fails his thematic intention

A Gothic Patchwork
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
RAJ Kamal Jha might have a gift, but it is not for the novel. Perhaps it is time to coin a new term for his brand of storytelling: word images that hurtle upon each other reminiscent of western music videos; disjointed, self-indulgent, at times powerful pictures that cater to short attention spans and loose narratives. But The Blue Bedspread declares itself 'a novel' and having demanded a place in that proud tradition, must be assessed as such. If I'd chanced upon the book, oblivious of its cheering midwives and expensive delivery, I would've shut it with impatience and forgotten about it. But coming as it does, swaddled in hype, one is forced to pause and ask: why doesn't The Blue Bedspread work?

In itself, the central idea of the novel is interesting: a small, middle-aged, middle-class man, both timid and faceless—the kind who merges with the crush of returning feet at six o clock—is forced to confront the disappointments and failures of his life by the appearance of a baby girl, the child of his dead sister thrust upon him in the still of night. Shaken out of...

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