Review: Saraswati Park is worth a brief visit

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 15:13 hrs

Name: Saraswati Park

Author: Anjali Joesph

Published by: Harper Collins

Price: Rs 299


The Good:
An eloquently told story that submerges you into the miniscule world of the Mumbai suburbia and its lower middle class tenants without unnecessary drama or a false sense of utopia. The book is certainly worth reading once.

The Bad: It has a weak and unresolved ending that leaves you with a feeling that there was a lot more that needed to be said. The book has a brilliant opening chapter but mostly goes downhill from there.

Saraswati Park is Anjali Joseph's debut novel and she does impress for a first-timer. There is not much in terms of plot; rather the book is an attempt to delve into human emotions.

The characters: We follow the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Karekar and their nephew Ashish, all whom stay in flat in Saraswati Park - a quiet suburb of Mumbai.

The frustrations and dreams of the would-be author Mohan Karekar, the disappointments and hopes of his wife Lakshmi and the confused and wildly emotional roller coaster that is the life of the their gay nephew Ashish are all very well described. The words flow smoothly and often leave you smiling at the small joys and victories that you yourself have no doubt experienced in your live.

But as the old saying goes - familiarity breeds contempt.

Buy Now: Saraswati Park by Anjali Joesph

While the novel is undoubtedly well written it has very little unique to offer. The book begins on a high note, instantly captivating you and becoming quite a page turner. But by the middle and especially towards the end it falls a little flat. The conflicts are neither new nor resolved in a memorable manner. Indeed by the end, much of it is left hanging, seemingly resolving itself somewhere inside the author's mind, but not in the pages of the book. The ending appears to be meant to give the sensation that life simply goes on.

Life goes on, books end. And when they inevitably do the reader should be left with a sense of completion. It is a small reward that the writer gives to the one who took the effort to read through all of it. The reward is just missing in Saraswati Park.  

Star of the book: A special mention has to be made for Ashish. Yes he is homosexual. And in a rare point-of-view, especially among Indian authors, nothing great is made out of it. It is just who he is.

He is neither bravely standing up to the world for all gay-kind nor brutalized and broken for being different. He is just a frustrated teenager with the same insecurities, curiosities, heart-breaks and exploitations as any one of us.

Among everything that is eminently forgettable about the book, Ashish stands out as a beacon.