24 April, 2021

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: Ghachar Ghochar 

Author: Vivek Shanbhag

Translator: Srinath Perur

Publisher: HarperPerennial

Genre: Fiction, Family drama

Print length: 130 pages


A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle finds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes overnight. As they move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house on the other side of Bangalore, and try to adjust to a new way of life, the family dynamic begins to shift. 

Allegiances realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Things become “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase uttered by one meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can't be untied.

Elegantly written and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humor, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings—and consequences—of financial gain in contemporary India.

Purchase Link:

My Review:

It is the shortest novel that I read recently. This can be considered as a family drama with mystery.

The story is a reflection of how people change with a sudden source of income. The author imbibes the culture, local traditions, and the everyday problems of a lower-middle-class family in the story. 

This author has a unique writing style. He seems to tell the story in a simple way while leaving clues making us guess how those clues are relevant. The climax is a bit confusing until you read the first chapter again after the ending. 

The author doesn't end the story in a very clear way and leaves the reader to join all the clues as puzzle pieces to understand the ending. 

At the end of the story, we wonder what happened to Anitha and why the whole family behaves as if nothing happened. Every small scene in the story has some significance. For example- when the narrator watches a couple fighting in the cafe, he breaks the glass which he is holding tight. Maybe, he is thinking, he is not good enough for Anitha or it's an indication that Anitha might have decided to leave him. 

While the narrative is interesting, I hated most of the characters except Anitha and the narrator's dad. I couldn't understand the situation of the narrator who doesn't want to earn on his own and will do anything to support the earners of the family, even it means injustice to someone else. 

My Rating: 4/5

About the Author:

Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short story collections, three novels, and two plays, and has edited two anthologies, one of them in English. For 7 years from 2005 to 2012, he published and edited the literary journal Desha Kaala. Vivek’s books are translated into many other Indian languages. His acclaimed novel Ghachar Ghochar was published in India in English translation in 2015.

Vivek's writing has appeared in Granta, Seminar, Indian Literature, and Out of Print.

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