Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Temple-goers

Title: The Temple-goers

Author: Aatish Tazeer

Number of pages: 297

Started: 5 December 2010

Finished: 9 December 2010

Opening words:

It was just after dinner and on one of the news channels the murder was re-enacted. There was a clap of studio thunder on one side of the split screen, a flash of strobe lightning, the glint of a knife. A hooded figure, his clean-shaven face partly in shadow, pursues a fat girl through a keekar forest. Suspenseful music, punctuated by the crashing of cymbals, plays in the background. The darkened figure catches up with the girl; her eyes widen, her wet lips part in a scream. He plunges a knife into her body at various points. In the next scene, he cuts up her body with a kitchen knife, putting great handfuls of flesh into black bin bags, four in total. Then tying them together, he sets them afloat on a hyacinth-choked canal in whose dark water the red lights of a power station are reflected. On the other side of the split screen a passport-size picture of the girl flashes above the caption ‘1982– 2008’. She’s laughing, her milky, rounded teeth exposed. She seems so unsinkable. I could almost hear her saying, ‘I’m twenty-six, running twenty-seven.

Read a longer extract here

Plot summary:

It tells the story of two young men from very different sides of the tracks: one cast adrift in a world of fashion parties, media moguls and designer labels, the other who reveals to him the city’s hidden and squalid underbelly. But when a body is found floating in the canal and one of them is accused of the murder, some deeply unsettling truths begin to emerge, exposing their friendship and the dark and troubled heart of the city in which they live…

What I thought:

I think my view of this book is perhaps tainted by having recently read Witness the Night. Both that book and this one are set in India and therefore they are not set in environments with which I am very familiar. It can therefore be a bit more difficult to relate to what a book is about. It also makes it more difficult not to compare this book with Witness the Night as they are in similar settings.

The trouble I found with this book is that it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. In Witness the Night, the book was framed around a murder. This book too was sort of about a murder, but I found various parts of the plot indistinct and it didn’t seem to have such a coherent message that emerged from it.

The book was readable, but not terribly memorable.

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