Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Temple-Goers - Aatish Taseer

Synopsis - A young man returns home to Delhi after several years abroad and resumes his place among the city's cosmopolitan elite: a world of fashion designers, media moguls and the idle rich.  But everything around him has changed - new roads, new restaurants, new money, new crime - everything, that is, except for the people, who are the same, only maybe slightly worse.
Then he meets Aakash, a charismatic and unpredictable young man on the make, who introduces him to the squalid underside of this sprawling city, and an intense and disturbing friendship develops.  But when a body is found floating in the canal and Aakash is detained for questioning, the two of them are suddenly swept up in a politically sensitive investigation that exposes the true corruption at the heart of this new and ruthless society.

Review - From reading the synopsis on the back cover of the book (see above), I was expecting a story that would keep me interested and pace along at a reasonable rate.  I was disappointed.  You did get a flavour for the divide between the rich and poor, the corruption and the caste system.  But it did not delve deep enough.  I did not like the characters, which were in my opinion rather shallow.  The narrator (the author himself) reads as weak and easily persuaded, his girlfriend Sanyogita is highly strung and maipulative.  The friendship with Aakash is a little bizarre.  Aakash is a trainer (from the poor side of the city) at Junglee the local gym, he is on the make but uses people to his advantage and is very manipulative.  He has a powerful hold on Aatish which is upsetting for Sanyogita.  Other characters such as Sanyogita's Aunt, is a politician and her arch enemy Shabbi (Aatish' mother's friend) is a TV mogul -  although these two are stronger in characterisation they are really only shown at their best when they are fighting over conversation at the table.  I also thought that the 'murder' would be given more focus but it only takes up the last three or four chapters of the book.  It seems as if it was added at the end to give the rather weak story an edge but I felt it was touched upon too lightly and given too little attention.  I find it difficult to rate and review a book that I do not particularly like but I will give this one 3*.

Blog Archive