Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

by
October 1994, no. 165

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

Picador, 16. 95 pb

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

by
October 1994, no. 165

For the untutored Western reader this exuberant and clever novel about the histrionics of twentieth-century Indian politics invites comparison with Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. But this is a mistake. Tharoor covers similar territory to Rushdie, and gives voice to the same virulent distaste for the late Mrs Gandhi, but his book couldn’t be more different.

The Great Indian Novel is not a tongue-in-cheek estimate of the book’s worth (although it may well be that also) but a literal translation of the ancient heroic epic, the Mahabharata, which this novel has expropriated. In a mock heroic tour de force, Tharoor has cast the political turmoil of India’s in­dependence and separation in the form of the Mahabharata of Vyasa. To quote from one of the novel’s several epigrams: ‘The essential Mahabharata is whatever is relevant to us in the second half of the twentieth century. No epic, no work of art, is sacred by itself; if it does not have meaning for me now it is nothing; it is dead.’

Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The Great Indian Novel' by Shashi Tharoor

The Great Indian Novel

by Shashi Tharoor

Picador, 16. 95 pb

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.