I loved the book. It took me 3 days to race through this book. 3 days of pure plain imagined nostalgia. The writing is lush, the characters true and the commentary hardly exaggerated.
Malaysia, Childhood and Tamils
The book is set in the Malay region, about tamil immigrants in the 80s. I was looking for a book about the lives of South Indian immigrants in South East Asia set in the 80s. How much more of a tailored read can this get?
My fascination for the region stems from a particular visit I made to Singapore some years back. Till then I had traveled, read and lived in the west extensively. Stepping out of Changi airport in Singapore was a revelation. I realized I loved the heat, the humidity, the spices, the flora and the fauna. Yes. Even that of plastic Singapore.
The tamil influenced fish head curries, greasy prathas, sweet dinosaur milos and dark skinned people. The dramatic afternoon thunderstorms with jagged splitting lightning followed by cracks of whipping thunder. The tamarind and banyan trees dripping with the water and sap. Yes. I cannot exaggerate enough the effect the landscape had on me.
The traditionally tamil customs like the regular holy visitations of Mariatha and Muniandy and numerous other such details, hark back to childhood stories, sweltering afternoons spent wandering in the sun and closeted middle class upbringing.
Creole English Advantage
Writers just want to write no? And readers just want to read no? Then why so much emphasis on grammar la? It is the style of the local people then what problem you have man. Singapore have english la. Malaysia also. Indians speak full on English too. Not just the soot boot types. Even normal people. It lends a certain flavor man. An idea of how the thoughts and conversations flow. The biggest advantage that this book, and I suspect multi cultural authors like Preetha Samarasan have is their ability to tell a cross cultural story to an English audience without any loss in translation.
All families are dysfunctional. It varies by degrees and tolerance. Preetha Samarasan’s cast of characters are unerringly staple residents of the 1980s and 1990s.