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With apologies to The Beatles, I have noticed a trend lately among (I am presuming to be) fairly educated and sophisticated people on the ra...

26 June 2010

Summertime and the Reading Is Easy II

Here is a delightful book to read this summer:  The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama, now in trade paperback.  The Kirkus Reviews likens the enjoyment of protagonist Mr Ali to that of Precious Ramotswe of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.  I can see where the comparisons come in: the pleasantly foreign cadence of a traditional but everyday culture thriving in a hot, dusty place (India versus Botswana); the continuous introduction of quirky characters in the vehicle of new clientele (marriage-seeking vs investigation-seeking souls), with details down to like how Mr Ali bargains for the price of a half papaya and then, insists the vendor freshly cut a whole papaya, which should delight readers interested in the finely drawn minutiae of living in Vizag, a South Indian town (I dare not describe it as "small" although a town of 3.5 million inhabitants in India might well be considered "small..")

I find Zama's writing style and the approach to this book very interesting.  He is writing mainly to non-Indians, but one could see that he is also appealing to Indians who may not be Muslim or may not be Brahmin or may not be South Indian.  He is ready to educate, entertain and engage the reader about Vizag of today.  After the main story, he adds a charming appendix, entitled "Extracts from Mrs. Ali's English Essays."  This is his opportunity to comment on language and custom, as well as give us more information on Vizag, Urdu, Telugu and even a recipe for halwa.

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