Long time since I blogged about a book, and English book! Not that I did not read in the gap …. but, it is just that I read the kind which are difficult to summarize 🙂
Coming to the point, Kanthapura is a book written by Raja Rao, one of the famous Indian english writers. I have heard a lot about this book, and seen it without opening it many times in the book stalls and in my college library. Ever since Rajarao’s death in July 2006, seeing various articles on him, my curiosity about him grew. That was the main reason, apart from Kanthapura being a ubiquitous name whichever book-stall I go, which prompted me in to reading this book. Kanthapura is considered an important milestone in the history of Indian english fiction. “Kanthapura has been described as the most satisfying of all modern Indian novels” – says the cover. With all this intro one has to this book, one would obviously imagine it to be a wonderfully obsorbing book …. which it is not!
I must have read only around 30-40 pages in this book in the past one week. I don’t feel like reading it at all. I feel this book is not for reading…. neither serious nor bedtime. I have read somewhere that it is written in a folk-story telling like fashion. Yeah, true. The narration goes on as if the narrator is speaking to us. So far so good. But, it is enjoyable truly only when the person comes in person to tell the story 🙂 Yeah… the first few pages itself are enough to create confusion first and boredom next. Its albeit too slow. The style of narration does not suit for written form, is what I understood from this book.
The theme of the story is actually good, which is infact the reason why I took to reading it, instead of any other Raja rao’s novel. It is about how Gandhian principles came to a small south-Indian village and what influence it had on people there. Religious orthodoxy, social life, Gandhism – it provides insight in to a medley of all such diverse issues which formed a part of everyday life of people in those days. But, I personally feel that the style was responsible for making this novel uninteresting. Atleast had it made me progress till a few pages more, I would have completed the book even if the rest part was duller in narration, as these first few pages created enough curiosity in me 😉 .
I still don’t understand how this is hailed as the most satisfying of modern Indian fiction. There are RKN, Mulkraj Anand etc for that era and the likes of Shashi Taroor, Vikarm Seth, Anita Desai, Arundathi Roy, Rohinton Mistry etc for this era, some of whose works I read. Never did with any of books I felt so dissappointed. Perhaps, over expectations made their effect!!!! Anyways … thats my version of Kanthapura experience. Yesterday night, I wanted to know what people ingeneral felt about this book. I found this well-written post on kanthapura. It is not out of pre-judice that I am linking to that post. That was the only blog post on this novel I could find at the first glance. So, it is not to support my stand 🙂