27 February, 2021

Ramchand Stores

That rare creature, a writer who can interweave comedy and tragedy with elan.

Ramchand Stores
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Any book which makes it to the Orange Prize long list is bound to cause a stir, and Rupa Bajwa's powerful first novel is no exception. Set in the author's hometown of Amritsar, the story centres around an impoverished but earnest young man called Ramchand, who works in a sari shop in the heart of the city's ramshackle old quarter. Rohinton Mistry is possibly the only other writer—in English, at least—to have so brilliantly captured the lives lived at the bottom of the social scale, where choices are stark and safety nets a luxury reserved for others. Bajwa, however, has a sense of humour, and thus avoids the mawkishness that frequently upsets Mistry's fine balance. She's that rare creature, a writer who can interweave comedy and tragedy with elan.

One of the funniest and most heart-wrenching scenes is of Ramchand, on quest to discover the bigger world outside his own humdrum existence of "shop, room, shop, room", poring over a battered second-hand copy of The Complete Letter-Writer, trying desperately to make sense of sentences like "George is frightfully proud...

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