A New Classic Set in India

Let’s talk about A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee for a moment, shall we?

Like I said in my first post about the book, I’m not a huge murder mystery fan, but I can appreciate the style from time to time. This one had all the forms of an old classic. The dark past of our hero, the beautiful woman, the lovable sidekick, the murder, etc. It wasn’t all that surprising and if that were all there were, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up to read.

Here’s a great line for my reader friends.

“It was the sort of room favored by a certain type of self-made man: oak paneled with shelves full of books that looked like they’d never been read.”

Bad guy. Clearly. I mean…never read books? You can’t trust people like that.

The real interest in the book for me was the setting and the historical background.

Set in Calcutta in 1919, at the beginning of India’s fight for “home rule,” I learned much about a culture and time I still know very little about. I read a Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth years ago, but that’s as far as I’ve been able to get investigating the era.

The book shed some light on something that has come up here at home. My husband’s work puts him in daily contact with several different cultures around the world, including India. He’s the manager of one of those call centers, and I’ve heard him talking with them often. The workers are so ingratiating that you at first think, “Wow, they are so polite and hard-working.” And that is true, he loves working with them. They’re kind, helpful, and eager to work hard. But it can be very difficult to know what they really want or can do. It feels like they are so busy trying to please you and keep their jobs, that you can’t get to the bottom of some kinds of problems. The cultural divide is too wide.

Reading this book made me see where some of that comes from, and it did not make me feel good. I want to know more about the colonization of India, their independence, and what’s going on today. Every time I see a movie like The White Tiger (which I just found out was based on a book), or read a book about India, I find myself wanting to know more. And today, I’m wondering where to go next. Have any suggestions?

What do you think?