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Seahorse Hardcover – 1 Dec 2014
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About the Author
Janice Pariat is the author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories, which won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar and the Crossword Book Award for Fiction in 2013.
Her work—including cultural features, literary columns, art and book reviews—appears in a wide selection of newspapers and magazines. Nomad at heart, she lives between India and Italy.
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This is somewhat the state we find Nehemiah in when the novel opens. Jilted by his lover – an art historian, Nicholas. Yes, it is about homosexual relationship and Pariat has dealt it with such candidness that made me wonder whether the characters are lifted from her own life, even as the novel is said to be inspired by the Greek mythology of Poseidon and his male devotee Pelops.
The novel shuttles between past and present, and between Delhi, Shillong and London. The narrative, however, is smooth and does not get jolted as it switches between time and geographies.
The description of Delhi and the events surrounding it are done beautifully. Even the city’s mind boggling heat comes across as something very sublime that you want to embrace it. Like in Kamala Das’s poem “Hot noon in Malabar”.
You will never look at North Delhi the way you may have it in your mind after reading the book. Or perhaps you will begin to love it more.
Besides, if you have stayed in North Campus as a student or even otherwise you will be able to relate to some of the situations the writer has drawn. Like the hostel atmosphere and house parties with cheap drinks and smoke.
Pariat brings alive the atmosphere of London equally well or at least the places where artists and writers hangout and also the gloom that the city’s famous winter brings.
The description of the places and emotions of people written in lyrical and poetic prose is supported by an engaging plot. Secrets are revealed and surprising twists hook our attention that is likely to propel the readers to wrap up the book in three or four sittings.
Call it surreal, but many a times I felt like that I was being sat by Pariat under the shade of a massive tree and told the story. And it does not matter whether Nehemiah will find his lover at the end, you will want the book to never end or so I felt.
I became a fan of Pariat after reading her collection of short stories “Boats on Land”, which is her first book and “Seahorse” is her first novel. With “Seahorse” I have become her disciple now and will be waxing eloquence about her art with all the book lovers there.
What Pariat says about seahorse in the book:
“Seahorses are strange creatures. Upright, they glide, rather than swim, moving with the current.
In lieu of scales, their skin stretches thinly over strong bony plates, intricately patterned in stripes, spots, swirls and speckles. Translucent yellow, electric green, liverish red, orange in love. They mate for long, if not for life.
Somewhere in China, they’re dried, and powered, dipped into soup, and whisky, believed to bestow everlasting virility and youth. They belong to that rarest of fish families marked by male pregnancy. And, most marvellous of all, they dance. A ritualistic courtship at dawn. They entwine their tails and float in unison, spinning gracefully through the water. They change colour. They dip, and rise, coordinated ballet partners in a routine long and exhaustive.”
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