Saturday, March 24, 2007

City of Fear

Robin, Amit's old friend (and now mine too), has just had a book published! It's called City of Fear and is one of the most sincere, readable and beautiful books I've encountered in a long time. What I like most about it is that though the subject is violence and after, there is no gratuitous show-casing of pain or trauma; no writerly celebration of cruelty. There is just a very clear, journalistic eye that records what it saw - and felt. Balancing all of that is the poetic quality of the writing. More than violence though, City... is about memory, displacement and the very real objects that one clings to in order to live and survive.

Unlike many writers these days, Robin's words don't tumble into one another; they don't become exercises in futile navel-gazing; and they are not there to make you drown in painful conceits. His writing is refreshingly pellucid. In many new Indian writers of English I find a fascination with wordy conceits, and little sincerity of purpose or subject (Sujit Saraf's embarrassing The Peacock Throne is a prime example). Perhaps what sets Robin's work apart is that unlike most of us he can't afford to poeticize violence, simply because he has been viscerally close to it. What a terrible thing to be grateful for.

Now that the book is out and has to be pushed, Robin has gone predictably coy. He's got a blog going at last (after 65,000 reminders). He promises to update regularly, to network and push his book a bit by having readings in other cities than his hometown Ahmedabad. So hopefully, City of Fear will come to a bookstore near you. Accompanied - hopefully again - by its writer. Do catch it if you can...

1 comment:

Deepa Krishnan said...

I went to the book reading at Crossword, the one where Naresh Fernandes was there for it...I forgot who else was there. I went with Shoba Narayan (author of Monsoon Diary). Robin signed a book for me. Such a small world.

Deepa

P.S. I really liked the book. I bought extra copies and gifted it to some American Jewish clients of mine.