Conceived during a freak flash flood in the middle of the desert, privileged young Pran is seen growing up in a rich family in Agra.
After being kicked out for being a total spoiled bad ass, he ends up in a palace looking like a hysterical large pink iced cake, in a Scottish Mission in a Bombay slum, in Oxford and ends up in the middle of nowhere.
To survive he alternatively shifts from a rich Indian boy to a lower than nothing one, a male slave prostitute disguised as a woman, a servant coupled with a half pimp until he loses completely his identity to become an Oxford student.
This shape shifting from one identity to another is triggered by a series of bad luck coupled with finding protectors with more or less good intentions.
Never being one or the other, changing sex, names and nationalities, he brings in himself the duality of being a ‘brown’ trapped in a ‘white’ envelope. He lost himself in that ambiguity and remained unfit for the world until he vanishes physically and spiritually.
I bought this book in Johannesburg in 2006 and since then, it has followed me everywhere. I always have half a shelf this big of unread books, just in case. Less than that, I feel insecure. My thing.
Finally, I picked it up and was thrilled by the writing, very upbeat, colourful and full of surprises, and always wanting to know what next will happen to Pran-Rukhsana-Chandra-Pretty Bobby-Jonathan.
Unfortunately, this enthusiasm wined down when he arrives at Oxford. A little boring, a lame love story and even a weak description of the colonialism in that beginning of the 20th century. The writing also ends up with looses ends.
a novel written by Hari Kunzru
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