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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi

Blurb (from the jacket):

Mamoon is an eminent Indian-born writer who has made a career in England - but now, in his early 70s, his reputation is fading, sales have dried up, and his new wife has expensive taste.

Harry, a young writer, is commissioned to write a biography to revitalise both Mamoon's career and his bank balance. Harry greatly admires Mamoon's work and wants to uncover the truth of the artist's life. Harry's publisher seeks a more naked truth, a salacious tale of sex and scandal that will generate headlines. Meanwhile Mamoon himself is mining a different vein of truth altogether.

Harry and Mamoon find themselves in a battle of wills, but which of them will have the last word?

The ensuing struggle for dominance raises issues of love and desire, loyalty and betrayal, and the frailties of age versus the recklessness of youth.

My take on the book:
I clearly remember it. I have been to this bookstore. I don't remember the name, but its probably something big, that has a chain of bookstores across the country - or maybe, even the globe. I came across this book. Hardbound. Crisp papers. Simple, yet effective cover. The aroma when the papers are ruffled just added to my blind resolve. And then I turned around the book and on the back these lines left a impression on my mind that ultimately led me to buying this book (Of course, not in the bookstore, That would be ridiculous. Or maybe I would've bought it there, at the bookstore, but the price tag scared me. It read, ₹ 600 ),

The madness of writing was the antidote to true madness

I never knew before reading this book that it is one of those esoteric books. My habit not reading the blurb or the reviews led me to do so. It was like reading Animal Farm. Even then, the same happened with me. I was through to the end and had no idea what all its fame was about.

Basically the book is a satire on V. S. Naipaul - the old and frail author just like Mamoon from the book. To get that, you must be lightly familiar with Naipaul's life and his work, to some extent. I haven't read any Naipaul. In fact, this is my first Hanif Kureishi!

The story goes on. I was pretty excited. You know, hardback and all. Then at some time, I am sure close to the start of the book, I was lost and couldn't hold my concentration on the book for more than a minute. I read a paragraph and I was trailed off.

One thing that excited me when I started reading the book was that it is set in the literary world. It depicts writing as a profession. It describes an author who has made it large just by writing books. And here I am, thinking artists' life is a hard one. The whole concept seemed to me very far-fetched. 

And then there are very cool quotes that the author drop in every now and then, which is the only aspect of the book that kept me going. Here are a couple of them,

Not that Harry had minded about the tales of madness, being 
aware that it is only the insane who achieve anything significant.

A writer is loved by strangers and hated by his family.

On the other hand, there were lines like,

Your penis is my dog.

Whispers a woman in the ear of a guy. What next? Is she going to take it for a walk? Maybe it made sense according some remote mythology, but for a layman reader, it is bullshit. It means nothing and is senseless. Maybe the author was too tired to actually write the book.

Overall, the excitement with which I started reading the book didn't last 50-pages and I was fighting to stay put, crawling to the backcover...



Title: The Last Word

Author: Hanif Kureishi

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780571277520


Read between: 05-08-2015 to 09-08-2015

Publishers: Faber & Faber Publications

Pages: 286

MRP: ₹ 599

The best deal for this book could be found here:  

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