Book Review: - The Book of Answers/A Novel by C.Y.Gopinath
Harper Collins, Price Rs.499, 2011
Though a seasoned journalist himself, C.Y.Gopinath has overstepped the construct of modest polemics to write one of the most remarkable satires that equally touches both the political and social realm with placing an individual at the forefront as a consine bearer. What I liked most in this novel, the quest of protagonist, Patros Patranobis for an ordinary yet satisfying life with his almost wife, Rose and son, Tippy which he has not fathered. But sudden arrival of a mysteriously unusual “The Book of Answers” as a legacy from a long-dead ancestor brings tectonic shift in his personal as well as in the political and social atmosphere around him.
Despite realizing the extraordinary potential of the book, proposition to sale it to a scrapper leaves a beautiful metaphor of an ordinary life that can be still opted by few over the market bound hyper commercial life. In some way, it gives hope for life outside of corrupt nexus. The grabbing of supernaturally efficient “The Book of Answers” by a godmen and passing of its wisdom to the most ruthless character of democracy, politician Ishwar Prasad exactly points out the Orwellian syndrome of “might is only right”. Rest ahead is fine narratives of a democracy with the institutions of flawed governance; though the inferred value of this novel will be universally relevant but in Indian contexts, it matches amazingly. Ethics in Indian politics has remained obstinately low without even slightly distracting by the “hyped magic” of economic reform.
Arrival of the real master of the book, Patros to check the its barbaric influences as damage control and further his searches of key in remote Kerala with witnessing the desperateness eventually visualize the end of a symbolic resistance. Such things hardly surprises us now as we have been and still living in a social order that created for forgetting the many humane attributes in the guise of growth. C.Y.Gopinath deserves all praise to unleash the real happenings in political circle and its consistent harm on the collective cognitive psyches; is this kind of political system that democracy promises by its instinct? Such erosion of responsiveness from one’s defined or undefined role vehementally juxtaposes the idealistic bearing and themes behind foundation of democracy!
In robustly dynamic time, few have patience to read the books like Aldus Huxley’s “Brave new World” which predicted the potential happenings of years ahead. What is viable in the present time to know the shifting of scenes around in simple and lucid expression, where this book succeeded with immaculate dedication of the author to add many positive changes in his surroundings. May be such idealism proceed or not but there will be no denying that a chunk of humanity will be keep striving with intrinsic impulses instead of enforced pressures.
Indian English writing is passing through a very productive phase, this work strengthen such notion with benign readability and indeed delving with the big systemic issues backed by real zeal and not only for grimacing on oddities we face regularly. India as a nation is experimenting with antagonistic ideas; it’s really hard and daunting in this scenario for any writer to interpret the things without reaching to the end of conclusion. Fortunately “The Book of Answers” has conclusion for its readers who can feel the ire of system through words albeit they will simply not stop being enjoying the satire!
Atul Kumar Thakur
July 27, 2011, Tuesday, New Delhi
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