"A classic tale of wealth and moral ruin." -- The New Yorker
" Ghachar Ghochar introduces us to a master." -- The Paris Review
A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes overnight. Read more...
"A classic tale of wealth and moral ruin." --The New Yorker
"Ghachar Ghochar introduces us to a master." --The Paris Review
A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds 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.
Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award
One of the BBC's "10 Books You Should Read in February"
One of Publishers Weekly's "Writers to Watch Spring 2017"
One of the NewYorker.com contributors' "Books We Loved in 2016"
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-10-10
- Reviewer: Staff
It is one of the strengths of families to pretend that they desire what is unavoidable. For the unnamed narrator at the heart of this concise and mesmerizing novel, what is unavoidable for his family is their fraught commitment to one another, remaining together even though (or because) its this very solidarity that sends everyone else away. Set in Bangalore, the family members situation reflects that of 21st-century India itself, as they are intoxicated by and slightly unprepared for the surge of wealth in which they find themselves. The narrator is a tenuously married young man, whose uncle has started a spice business, altering almost overnight what had been the modest, hand-to-mouth existence their family had previously known. And yet when the family moves to a new home, the narrators mother is unnerved by the size of the kitchen, his sister rushes into a ridiculously opulent wedding only to find herself miserable with the groom, and the narrator himself becomes aimless, spending his days at a coffee shop, once he realizes that he earns the same salary whether he accomplishes anything or not. Day-to-day, the family members drink tea, share meals, and watch one anothers every move. Shanbhag has been a prolific writer in his native South Indian language of Kannada for decades, but this firecracker of a novel is the first of his work to be translated into English. Absorbing, insightful, and altogether a wonderful read. (Feb.)