This review of mine has been published on desicritics.org
Met the author recently & since he seemed like an interesting person, I thought it might be worthwhile to read the book.
Ravan & Eddie is a reasonably hilarious story about Ravan, a Maratha Hindu & Eddie, a Roman Catholic growing up to adolescence on different floors of the Central Works Department chawl no 17 in Bombay.
Having never before been inside a Chawl, inspite of seeing plenty from the outside, this book seemed the ideal vehicle to get transported inside a place I had never been before. Or at least the blurb said so.
The story starts off when Ravan is not yet born & Eddie is barely a year old. It then follows them through the twists & turns of their growing up, the pleasure, the pain, the horror, the angst, the guilt, the questions ... they are all there in the book.
Kiran Nagarkar confesses upfront, that he has a tendency to rat on his own earnestness with something farcial, bawdy or self-deprecatory. If you can handle that, you will love the book.
With the mill lands being sold off for Commercial gains, the only way we may know of Chawls & life in them will be through books like Ravan & Eddie.
Kiran breaks of in between the narrative to give the reader "a Digression on Afghan Snow", a "Meditation on Neighbours", the "History of Romantic Comedies in Hindi Films", & the "Shortest Survey ever of the Portugese Advanture in the Old World"
The "Meditation on Neighbours" is Absolutely Brilliant, even as a stand alone piece of writing. It elaborates on some elementary or critical differences between the Catholics & Hindus living in the chawls. The book is worth buying just to read this elaboration.
Looking forward to buying and reading Cuckold & Seven Sixes Are Forty Three. Then maybe I can try to get my hands on his plays & screenplays.
About the Author :
Kiran Nagarkar was born in Mumbai. He wrote his first book in a language in which he had never written before - Marathi. The book was called Saat Sakkam Trechalis, recently translated as Seven Sixes are Forty-Three, and is considered a landmark in post-independence Indian literature. His novel in English, Ravan and Eddie, acclaimed as a literary bestseller, has been translated into Marathi.
Read an Interview with the Author Kiran Nagarkar