22 June, 2021

Pigment Of The Imagination

A long overdue dose of the magical-subcontinental by an 'Indian' writer

Pigment Of The Imagination
There are two things you need to put aside in order to read Hari Kunzru’s first novel, The Impressionist. The first is the hoopla about the huge advance he has received, and the second is the shitty pink and gold cover his publishers have felt obliged to gild their lily with. If you are an Indian reader then there is possibly a third divestment that might come in handy—the idea that this is an ‘Indian’ writer writing an ‘Indian’ novel in English. Get rid of the white noise, begin to read and it is likely that you will be reminded of why one reads novels in the first place—diversion and enjoyment.

The story is fairly straightforward in its meandering: at the turn of the last century, in a forest somewhere UP-ish, an Englishman drunk on trees collides carnally with a young Indian bride-to-be high on opium. Englishman dies posthaste. Bride-to-be ditto, but not before marrying a Kashmiri Pandit and giving him a fair-skinned son that he imagines is his own. The son, Pran Nath, is a nasty piece of teenage work who gets his comeuppance when his genealogy is...

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