Book No 7 (2014) : The Impressionist

impressionistSweeping Indian novels are a passion of mine – I cut my teeth on ‘The Far Pavilions’ when I was about 14 and swore for years afterwards that I would name my son ‘Ashton’ after the lead character! Well, that didn’t happen, but I have enjoyed many Indian sagas since then.
The Impressionist’ by Hari Kunzru, is the story of Pran Nath, born as the result of a fleeting union between an English officer and an Indian beauty. Circumstances see him ousted from his privileged home and catapulted into a series of lives from a male prostitute to a place at Oxford. He encounters characters from all walks of life, most of whom appear to be indifferent to him, and with whom he rarely forms any mutually meaningful attachments. Pran/Rukshana/WhiteBoy/Pretty Bobby and Jonathan Bridgeman (Pran’s various personae) are all ‘dodgy’ characters, drawn to the seedier side of life, quick to exploit opportunities. But Pran is essentially a blank canvas, a chameleon soaking up the hues of his surroundings, using the pale colour of his skin to his advantage. His quest to find his place in the world is at times violent, amusing and thrilling.
It’s not a quick read and the pace seems to slow, leaving the conclusion somehow unfulfilling. At times I was enthralled by the book, but towards the end found my concentration waning. Despite it having been critically acclaimed, ‘The Impressionist’ is not a novel that I particularly enjoyed.

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2 thoughts on “Book No 7 (2014) : The Impressionist

  1. Olivia February 23, 2014 / 4:04 pm

    Confessing here to intense curiosity about your progress on the weight/lbs ditching front … 🙂 Is it working? Are you losing weight? Or is it refusing to budge, held on, scotch-taped into position, by winter and the cold and comfort eating on normal days and less exercise and sunlight than in the summer? Have you lost more or less than the 8 lbs that you planned on losing by now? I’ve been putting weight on again, probably because of unusual amounts of chocolate and salty crunchy snacks! 😦 And ever since the menopause, which happened early for me, I have not been able to lose weight as easily as I used to with just a little bit of effort. 😦 … So I am discouraged from making even that little bit of effort! :lol 😦 Currently crunching on some peanut puff things. Hope all is well and that you are making some progress at least. 😀 🙂 xxx

  2. Olivia February 18, 2014 / 10:53 pm

    I think I read this a couple of years ago. I didn’t like it v much either by the end. And on the whole I think it’s a dud, disappointing etc … *but* I wish it hadn’t been, because I thought the idea of the explicitly chameleon-like person, having no social existence other than what his circumstances demanded of him, no “personage” for public consumption *other* than what he learned to perform in each situation/milieu, was intriguing/thought provoking … but perhaps it was too slippery a concept to convey except as an increasingly meaningless kind of role-play or “serial-drag” … ? … The sense of having nothing but that learned-self to “play”/present in public, that the “hero” *had* no other kind of public self, that all their ways of interacting with others were such performances, and that their “authentic”/individual self had *no* ( other/spontaneous ) means of interacting with others at all … I wondered if it was an attempt at an examination or description of what it feels like to be on the Autism spectrum; *all* social interaction an “effort”, like putting on clothes to go outdoors; calculated according to the weather or the occasion? Or does everybody feel like this, to some extent or other? 🙂

    Olivia xxx

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