24 July, 2021

Webbed Feat

Kunzru combines the real with the virtual to spin a splendid cyberyarn

Jitender Gupta
Webbed Feat
I usually avoid reading first novels that come riding the tailwind of a humongous advance, at least till the roar of the crowd dies down. So, and what with one thing and another, I never managed to read Hari Kunzru’s debut The Impressionist. And now comes Transmission, the very fact of whose appearance is impressive; Kunzru is that rare big-ticket young Indian/ Indian-origin novelist who has been able to produce a second book.

The man can write. Within its first few pages, Transmission manages to charm the reader with the lucid wit of its language ("She...unceremoniously pulled the door open to reveal a waiting room filled with nervous young people, sitting on orange plastic chairs with the peculiar self-isolating stiffness interview candidates share with criminal defendants and people in STD-clinic reception areas"). And when writing about technology, former Wired correspondent Kunzru nearly reaches the crystal heights of Neal Stephenson: "When you write code, you are in control. You construct a world from first principles, drawing up the axioms...

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