21 September, 2020

My Book of the Century

My Book of the Century
A century is too short a time span to put books in perspective, but one of my favourite books of this century is All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani. This is quite simply a book that defies definition, let alone explication. First published in 1948, this classic of modern Anglo-Indian literature has been seminal in its influence and its acute precognition of the appropriation of the English language by the voices of the subcontinent. It is a subtle and satiric work, mad, funny and irreverent. I think this is a book written on the very edge of genius. Desani, a distinguished Professor of Philosophy, had studied mantrayoga. Accordingly, he knows the power of words, sounds and incantations and his is a profound and mystic book, a metaphysical folly, a cryptic, confounding, absurd, endearing excursion into hyper reality. This is the book that liberated the English language of its geographical constraints, restoring it to chaos, letting the demons of myth and mania loose on an unsuspecting Occident. It is good to see the book back on the stands.

(Namita Gokhale is a...



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