Tuesday, 21 September 2010
'His glance happens to skim the heavens. Heaps of scattered lights make his hair stand on end. He's never wanted to know what they are or what they stand for. He has had the childish wish to fly among them. He doesn't wish that now; just looking at them is frightening.'
A small-time pimp and fixer schemes his schemes, looks back on his short, sordid life and comes face to face with the unforeseen. Is it a murder mystery in disguise or just another hard luck tale?
The translator's introduction holds up Chekhov and Camus as comparisons and influences on Nagarajan's blend of realism and existentialism.
These are good comparisons and valid reference points, but the book also puts me in mind of the bleak visions of noir writers like Chandler and Hammett and especially the novels of Simenon, themselves a form of existentialist crime fiction. This in turn puts me in mind of James Sallis, basically an existentialist who writes crime fiction. These are only comparisons, Nagarajan was not exposed to any of the writers I've just named, as far as I know.
Nagarajan's fictional world is bleaker than all these writers', except perhaps Simenon's, and there's a strong sense that this might be because it is, in fact, identical with the real world. An unforgettable narrative and a perfect miniature, containing vaster volumes than many longer novels.
Posted by JP at 20:36