First of all, many, many best wishes and congratulations to the author, Neel Mukherjee for his book, The Lives of Others getting nominated in the Longlist for this year's Man Booker Prize. And secondly, a huge thanks to Neel Mukherjee and his publicist, for sending me over a copy. The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee review – Marxism and time-bombs that suddenly change the way we see the book's whole world. The Lives of Others is a novel by Neel Mukherjee. It was published in by Chatto & Windus "The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, book review: A departure from the comfy Indian novel that both shocks and impresses". Independent.

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Neel Mukherjee is the author of two previous novels, A Life Apart (), for best novel, and The Lives of Others (), which was shortlisted for the Man. The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, review: 'masterful' being an activist out of the idealism that comes from books, conversations, the fire. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this “dazzling” (Entertainment Weekly) saga of epic scope is both a family and a political drama. The aging patriarch and.

Each set of family members occupies a floor of the home, in accordance to their standing within the family. Poisonous rivalries between sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business threaten to unravel bonds of kinship as social unrest brews in greater Indian society.

This is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: The eldest grandchild, Supratik, compelled by his idealism, becomes dangerously involved in extremist political activism—an action that further catalyzes the decay of the Ghosh home.

Ambitious, rich, and compassionate, The Lives of Others anatomizes the soul of a nation as it unfolds a family history, at the same time as it questions the nature of political action and the limits of empathy. It is a novel of unflinching power and emotional force. It is ferocious, unsparing, and brutally honest. Neel Mukherjee terrifies and delights us simultaneously.

Byatt, Guardian. His fierce intelligence and sophisticated storytelling combine to produce an unforgettable portrait of one family riven by the forces of history and their own desires. Consistently vivid and well realised. Resembles a tone poem in its dazzling orchestration of the crescendo of domestic racket.

His second novel, The Lives of Others, presents a no less violent juxtaposition than his A Life Apart, and poses a similar challenge to middle-class reading tastes, in particular the enduring love of post-Colonial English readers for Indian novels which charm rather than confront.

It begins in with a profoundly shocking sequence, emblematic of the novel's purpose, in which a starving Bengali peasant slaughters his wife and children before killing himself by drinking corrosive insecticide. We are then whisked off into a seemingly unrelated double narrative. In one strand of this we meet three generations of the upper-middle-class Ghosh family, who made their fortune in paper production and are steadily losing it through the effects of Partition, mismanagement, union trouble and domestic discord.

In the other we follow the story of one of the family's eldest grandsons, who has dropped out of his life of privilege to train and work as an activist and guerilla fighter for the outlawed communist Naxalites. The Ghoshes are a big family.

Mukherjee provides both a family tree and a guide to the Bengali relational terms. Though their empire spreads across the continent, they all live in the one, old Kolkata house, the patriarch and his wife on the top floor and the spoilt youngest's outcast widow and children on the gloomy bottom one.

Many guilty readers, and not a few Indian novelists, would have contented themselves with focusing on this household. It provides a tidy microcosm of Hindu society, rigidly hierarchical, borne up by cheap labour, yet shot through with destabilising insecurities and alliances. As in an equivalent dynasty imagined by Galsworthy or Mann, the company founder supposes his commercial achievements can only be undone by his modernising sons, while the sons despair of the father's lack of foresight.

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His wife retains a blind fondness for the family's oldest retainer, in effect a slave procured as a child to raise her children and cook the delicious dishes of his impoverished background, a situation that will bring about a tragedy of injustice and misplaced loyalty worthy of Conrad at his darkest. The house is riven with conflicts born of marriage. One son has married the perfect, peacekeeping wife, one, harbouring profound sexual shame arising from incestuous coprophilia, since you ask has married a vulgarian.

The latter delights in a state of constant warfare with the family's unmarried daughter. This character, the most richly portrayed in Mukherjee's family album, rendered unmarriageable by too much education and unfortunate looks, consoles herself with inventive spite while her mother looks on, aware of the part she has played in creating such a monster but powerless to intervene.


Another character who could arguably have taken a whole novel to himself is Sona. Shy and wordless to the point of autism, raised on scraps by his outcast mother, in the household's cruel scheme he is in effect an Untouchable.

And yet, as the great Ghosh boat moves inexorably towards the rocks of its social and economic ruin, he proves to be its quietly triumphant survivor, saved by a genius for pure mathematics. The Ghosh household serves a Sethian narrative feast with dishes to spare, and yet it is arguably the novel's much harsher second strand which matters most to Mukherjee.

Pursuing the rebel son, Supratik, on a career from s Maoist idealism through brutal murders in the jungle, to scenes of police torture that had this reader sitting protectively on his hands, it is a graphic reminder that the bourgeois Indian culture Western readers so readily idealise is sustained at terrible human cost. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists?

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The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, review: 'masterful'

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View all newsletter. Indeed Rabindra Ray has argued, very persuasively, that the true core of s Naxalite student-radicalism was constituted not by utopianism but rather by nihilism. Savagery on the Burma death railway.