Issue: July 2014

The Smoke Is Rising / Mahesh Rao- Book Review

  • book review

At the heart of this novel lies the ongoing battle that one sees in all pockets of India—the getting rid of the old to make way for the new.

Although set in Mysore, this is something that one sees even in a city like Mumbai, where shiny ‘newness’ seems to be fast eradicating all that one associated with the ‘oldness’ of Bombay. All in the name of progress and development of course, we’re made to believe!

The massive behemoth called HeritageLand, slated to be Asia’s largest theme park and some sort of wellness centre, is making its way into the middle of Mysore and with it come plenty of reservations and tensions for the landowners. They’re not willing to give up their ancestral land on principle, though are also seeking out the right remuneration. How this situation has a bearing on the lives of three women—Susheela, Uma and Mala—and the whirlwind of change it brings, is what is detailed through this poignant saga divided simply into chapters: Summer, Monsoon and Winter. 

The highly descriptive prose is arresting from the start. ‘Dusk was stealing into the city. The pitiless heat of the day was now only a memory as a light wind picked up, bringing with it grit and dust from the Bangalore-Mysore highway,’ begins the novel. Elsewhere we find, ‘Even though it was not a Sunday, the house was steeped in Sunday quiet.’ These and other nuggets make this an impressive literary debut!

Publisher: Random House India; Genre: Fiction; Price: R499

Read more in the July 2014 issue of Hi! BLITZ – the no.1 Lifestyle magazine.

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This article first appeared in July 2014 issue of Hi! BLITZ magazine

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July 2014