Sunday, April 04, 2010

Recipe for a novel

Sunil K Poolani

Lessons in Forgetting
Anita Nair
Price: 399; Pages: 329

The idea
Obviously, the idea is to make the dish delectable. Especially if it is meant for commercial consumption. Since this recipe is about concocting a novel, the ingredients are characters and plot(s). Narrative style does not feature here as it is more of an aftertaste: good, passable or bad.


* Midlife angst/desperation: In good volume
* Corporate lifestyle from a woman’s point of view: Stronger the better (since the main clientele are bored housewives)
* Whirlwind nature: Adding cyclones into the already-rich blend gives headiness
* Teenage trauma: Yummy and zappy (as this is an upcoming market)
* Salvation, absolution, redemption: In good measure, to cater to urbandisillusionment
* Spice and salt: As much as you can get from south Indian cities andvillages

Method of preparation
Since this is a volatile plot you would require a cauldron. The main ‘ingredients’ are Prof JA Krishnamurthy, or Jak, a cyclone studies expert; his daughter Smriti, 19, who is traumatised after a beach attack; the corporate housewife Meera, who is also a cookbook writer, and of course, the main protagonist. Jak is hell-bent on finding out the reason for Smriti’s now-comatose state.
On a parallel track, Meera, disenchanted because her husband has discovered a pretty young thing, reciprocates by wooing a young stud. Include a Force 6 gale and the cauldron starts to sizzle.
Since the idea is to have an interesting mix, the burners are used at varying temperatures. Yes, you guessed it right: the narrative switches between past and present, linear and non-chronological. A dish should have a regional flavour, so Bangalore does fine here, thank you, what with the city’s cantonment areas and old-style villas, beantown’s nouveau rich, the corporate types et al coming into play.

All said and done, since this preparation is a hastily churned out one, it is advisable to serve it on a single platter sans any side dishes, that is, if at all you can finish it in one go.
And since the plot is dense and the narrative hard to munch through, keep digestive pills handy, just in case. And in the end, or the next morning when you hit the washroom, the dish is a lesson in forgetting.

(Sunil K Poolani is one of the main chefs at Leadstart Publishing, Mumbai)
-- DNA


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Sunil.
Your critique leaves a mixed taste on the palate!
You have a curious way - interesting - of presenting your reviews.
Best wishes ...
Priti Aisola (

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, Sunil!
A J Thomas (

Anonymous said...

A refreshingly different style of review ... any specific reason for the cookbook narrative thread?
-- Uma Chandrasekaran


But Sunil how much of this bravado is accepted by the mainstream literary mafia; you may very well say I don't care, but don't you? My point is, isn't it high time we exposed this literary mafia? How many of the Penguin and Harper Collins publications( fiction) have been successful? You know; I know, but do the people know?