Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Temple-Goers

Title: The Temple-Goers
Author: Aatish Taseer
Penguin/Viking, to be released March 2010

This debuting author has been called the Indian Bret Easton Ellis, which does indeed point you in the right direction. However, expect more Less Than Zero than American Psycho. The setting is Delhi and the main character a young man returning from studies abroad to a life of wealth and leisure. However, lack of any real challenge in life, has left him alienated and slightly numbed. As he tries to create meaning for himself, by structuring his daily schedule, a second character, a foil, emerges.

Aakash is his personal trainer and the initial description of him is high comedy. But this flamboyant, even clownish, persona turns sinister as cracks in the facade reveals a rage that lashes out at potential adversaries. The two central characters and their strange relationship is the true value of this reading experience. The female lead is far from as well drawn, and the city, Delhi reveals herself in glimpses but does not come alive as I think she was meant to.

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