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Absolutely spectacular

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Revised Kama Sutra by Richard Crasta was first released sometime in 1993 to fantastic response from readers and critics here in India and in the US, besides several other countries where it was published in many different languages. A kind of coming of age novel, it has middle-class Mangalorean Catholic boy, Vijay Prabhu, recounting his childhood in conservative Mangalore, his boyhood longings as testerone kicked in, and his eventual journey to America.

It is a hilarious novel, full of wit and glib language, with a whole lot of compassion thrown in. Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “I salute you as a full-fledged colleague. Yes, I am reading you and finding you very funny!”

“Oral tradition has it that our Saraswat Brahmin ancestors had migrated from north India to Goa in the early part of the first millennium after Christ. But it is only in the sixteenth century, when the Portuguese landed in India with the Divine Mission of spreading Christianity and syphilis among the brown races – winning pepper and souls for the mother country – that most official histories of Mangaloreans by Mangaloreans begin. What a telling state of affairs: that your racial memory is a blank slate until the time sword-wielding Jesus freaks from five thousand miles away invade your country.”

When Crasta gets to describing life around him from when he was just six until he turned eight, there is a strange feeling of Dickensonian episodes, lightened by the Twain-sounding Tom Sawyerish experiences, with innate humour on every page that makes you smile, giggle or laugh outright. Crasta has been so very observant, particularly of the behaviour of the nuns and priests, who people this book in uncanny starkness.

“…our care and feeding, the welfare of our bodies and souls became the responsibility of the nuns and their house of bondage called Saint Juliana’s Convent. I still remember…how my father committed me and my brother to this institution by handing over a hundred-rupee bill to the Mother Superior. The nun pocketed the money, held us by our little hands, and dragged us into the dark, tiny-windowed intestines of her establishment. Sister Domina Mary…wielder of the fastest cane in the East…her black veil complementing her dark looks and her sharp, crocodile teeth, her steel cross so large as to seem like a back-up weapon.”

Excellent, irreverent, moving, funny.

The Revised Kama Sutra by Richard Crasta
Price Rs.399

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