Book Review Jack and Master.
Spring cleaning is a good idea, when I did so I found a book stashed under my bed I had kept it there for my before bed reading.
The author Karan Verma, debuts with this novel, Jack And Master published by Rupa ISBN 9788129130938. I really enjoyed the book with its racy pace, elegant, yet everyday language that is grammatically correct.
It is in the genre of fiction rightly so. Other than the Name Goa, and stray use of something called Vasco Hall, a Cavalosseim here and a Calangute there the geography and ethos is fictional.
Karan dishes out the usual head versus heart conflict, or the conventional and off beat debate through the story of two friends in an mythical institute called Grinells, really Karan Grinell, do realize how close you came to Grinch?
The story opens at India Gate, where the author’s equivalent of Bharata Ratna is happening, he calls it the hall of Fame,(by the way I have a hall of monsters) where one of the protagonist Siddarth Rane is being inducted into the hall of fame. The story then moves into a flash back narrative, the author has used an interesting concept which I seen being used only in traditional theatre where the narrator opens the story and then lets the reader walk in. In a lime line when he is dealing with the present, Karan has opted for italics then the flash back enters in normal font.
The story tracks the lives of two friends Siddarth Rane, and jack I don’t recollect the last name, but it was not very goan. The traditional Ramu Kaka or whatever chachi is replaced by Joseph here, Joseph we are told sees the students as surrogates to a son he has lost.
Siddarth follows the traditional track, genius in his subject, visionary and revolutionary in his work till he talks and spear heads economic revolution of Goa. On the other Jack is more search of his own purpose in life and meanders through various options the only stable aspect being his love for Goa. Sakshi Siddarth’s wife is the ideal woman behind the man, the textbook ideal wife. We do not know if Jack’s wife Samantha is one, she however leaves him half way through his meandering and returns only when discovers his goal.
Both Siddarth and Jack find refuge in the refuge of all scoundrels that is politics, that’s when both of them are face with their strengths, weakness, and vision they are political rivals, with a common focus Goa though what the greater good of Goa is different.
Though being Goan I do feel the author has lost a wonderful opportunity to actually walk through the rich ethos of goa, the tourist guide Jack could have shared the heritage walks, the temples, the prehistoric sites of Goa rather than make random references to Calungute or Cavalossim. It effects us could have at least unique goa issue like the influx of domestic tourists causing increased prostitution and drugs. The disruption drunken tourists cause.
When references are made to seminar halls and convention center, there are enough and more actual ones in Goa, referring to existing ones would have rooted the story . while talking about labour issues it sounds like the labour issues that could be in Bengal or Kerala, the labour issue in Goa is goan’s go out of the country as labourers, while migrant workers from Karnataka come down to Goa, this comes with its own cost. Over the past 5yrs we have labourers coming in UP and Bihar that comes with another set of problems. The hospitality industries labour comes from North east, we have influx of labourers and business house that tuned to the tourist season it is like looting the state.
It is only after page 228 in a 243 page book does the reference to the fact that Goa has two zones comes out, and Panjim the capital is mentioned in page 228, but commercial hub Margao stays unacknowledged. By the City centre is building in Patto Island not centre of the city, if people were to make a demonstration we would assemble at Azad Maidan.
Now that the Goan Citizen has vented her frustration, as a reader I enjoyed the book, it is light, uncomplicated uncluttered. The characters are adequate in number and presentation. The language is light crisp and flows easily, the book is obviously written by a person who thinks in English.
A great book to relax with, don’t forget the coffee and banana chips.
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