25 September, 2020

Maximum Grotesquerie In Purple

Nagarkar’s prose, both authorial and in the attributed “free indirect”, is unrelentingly flaccid and wooden.

Maximum Grotesquerie In Purple

I worked my way through all 450-plus pages of Kiran Nagarkar’s The Extras in the hope of discovering what drove him to write this novel. His characters are puppets, devoid of all existential gravity. They are buffeted about, rather like clowns in a circus—there are loud reports of slaps and blows, great clouds of dust and talc are released, but no one is hurt. And none of it seems to matter anyway—it is mere distraction, a way of keeping the audience engaged while the main act is being prepared.

This could have been novelistic technique, a way of registering the ambient noise of pain and struggle, the anonymous background of subcritical tragedy against which the characters are enabled, by their creators, to lead lives of moral gravity. No such luck here. Nagarkar’s characters do not rise to significance. When his protagonists are swindled out of their and their families’ savings—fake visas, the promise of jobs in Dubai— it merely provides the occasion for some weak humour, some limp...



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