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I was totally captivated by the dazzling style of Kunzru's prose, and his evocation of India is spot on. But I found the tone of the book problematic in parts. I know it's supposed to be tragi-comic, but there's nothing remotely funny about child abuse, and this did not sit well with the witty comic observations, particularly in the part set in the palace. Still, if Kunzru has taken out the tragedy it might well have been a dreary read. And the comedy is wonderful.
Debra Seetaram (T&T)
I was completely captivated by the plot of "The Impressionist," and thought the author's exploration of an identity crisis was done superbly! Most of us, at one point or another in our lives, undergo a period of intraspection...trying to discover who we are, Kunzru touches on the challenges faced by someone who has no real base to attach his identity and and such struggles to find such a place where he can build one. An emotional story....let yourself be emersed into the world of Pran Nath.
This book totally captivated me; I can't recall being so excited by a novel in a long, long time (and I am really looking forward to Kunzru's newest book, Transmission, which I understand is totally different). Many readers have complained that there isn't a lot of depth in the main character and that they therefore can't relate to him; also that the plot jumps from one place to the other. This is true--but that's the whole point! The book is about identity--what shapes it, including class, race, place, appearances, and other people's desires, prejudices, and perceptions. Pran Nath does not have a solid core, because the novel needs his relative emptiness. After having a series of identities thrust upon him, he learns that identity is flexible, and that he can just as easily recreate himself. I also disagree with those who found the writing flat; personally, I found it stunning.
The Impressionist is a well written, but eventually disappointing book. Hari Kunzru is so pre-occupied with creating set-pieces that he fails to give adequate attention to the structure of the plot. As a result the novel tends to skim the surface and some of the chapters have rather hurried endings. Nevertheless, considering that this is a debut novel, Kunzru deserves to be complimented for a refreshing use of language and a tragic-comic take on the theme of racial identity.
I was not a fan of this book, the ending was weak and it left a lot of unanswered questions. It was an interesting and timely subject; however, I felt the author did not thoroughly investigate many points. The author had a unique opportunity to explore interracial relationships and bi-racial heritage but dropped the ball. I was very disappointed. Pran Nath survivor of so many trials should have been a stronger character, dispite the outcome, and should have been dealt with better. It was like some colossal Indo-"Quantum Leap" without a definitive plot.
an excellent source of education of various cultures and countries...truly mesmerizing and captivating.....ONe of the best book ive read in my 15 yrs 'lifetime.I learned more about life and inner wisdom through the experience of pran. It has helped me struggle with my inner conflicts and deal with them in a different perspective. i rate this 5 out o f 5
I picked up Hari Kunzru's debut novel purely out of curiosity: Why should a writer get paid such a preposterous advance to write his first novel? And once I started, I continued in pure thrall of the style, the layers and the dizzying plot. I haven't read anything like this in a long time. The protean protagonist, Pran Nath, breezes through identities, cultures and countries, captivating us with his strange experiences and peoples.
Apart from the occasional letdown in a few stretched or tired similes scattered through the book, the writing is one of the freshest I have read in a while. Specially if you've been plodding through other exptariate writers like Naipaul and Rohinton Mistry, which I have been in the past few weeks.
I'd give it a 5, and look forward to more Kunzu works.