Book Review — Ghachar Ghochar

Ghachar Ghochar — by Vivek Shanbhag, translated by Srinath Perur

Publishr: HarperPerennial

Pages:128

Price: Rs. 299 INR(paperback)

ISBN: 978–9352642373

Buy it here:

It’s true what they say — it’s not we who control money, it’s the money that controls us. When there’s only a little, it behaves meekly; when it grows, it becomes brash and has its way with us.’ From a cramped, ant-infested house to a spacious bungalow, a family finds itself making a transition in many ways. The narrator, a sensitive young man, is numbed by the swirl around him. All he can do is flee every day to an old-world cafe, where he seeks solace from an oracular waiter. As members of the family realign their equations and desires, new strands are knotted, others come apart, and conflict brews dangerously in the background. Masterfully translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur, Ghachar Ghochar is a suspenseful, playful and ultimately menacing story about the shifting consequences of success.

About the author

Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short-story collections, three novels and two plays, and edited two anthologies, one of which is in English.

Srinath Perur writes on a variety of subjects, especially travel or science. He is the author of the travelogue If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai (Penguin India, 2013). He lives in Bangalore.

My take on this book

What happens when a simple middle class family gets rich suddenly, changing the dynamics at home, between the family members, may be forever and in turn affecting their lives. Vivek explores this theme in old time Bangalore — the head of the family loses his job but that gives an indirect opportunity for investing and starting their own family business. The business flourishes but somewhere in the chaos created by this sudden wealth, the basic roots and values of the family are lost.

It is a very short, quick read, almost like a short story but with a little more details added in. The characters are real and not exactly perfect, each having multiple layers and shades. The supposed lead is an unambitious person who routinely goes through life except for visiting a cafe which is his favorite time of the day. There are other characters, his parents, sister, and uncle and later his wife. The book has a nice cover which beautifully reflects the story and the people, with an analogy of ants and humans.

On the flip side, this guy, whose name interestingly I couldn’t find being referenced anywhere in the entire story, comes across as being insensitive and constantly criticizing the woman around him, be it his wife, sister or mother. He is constantly holding the newly acquired wealth as the main cause of all issues at home. If this can be ignored, then the story makes for a good one-time read.

Go for this book if you like short stories depicting realistic characters and situations. Also, the layered characters and story are sure to win over.

My rating

3.5/5.

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