“And I’ll never leave India …I’ll take India with me wherever I go.”–This quote from my own novel, which I just reread after a long time thanks to The Hindu review which I attach below, is the perfect answer to the convoluted non-issue regarding my identity (as if any Indian can ever run away from the fact of his Indianness!). I had partly forgotten myself in all these years of wandering … lost my way; this novel, more than anything else, reminds me of the real me.
Possibly the most seriously regarded and the preeminent Indian literary review at the time, as well as a respected newspaper, The Hindu (which continued to publish an entire 4-page or 8-page Book Review supplement on weekends even after other newspapers had drastically cut down on their book reviewing) published this review of The Revised Kama Sutra: A Novel of Colonialism and Desire. The paper also selected the novel as its Book Choice of the Fortnight. It is presented in two halves so as to enhance readability.
Some background on these reviews and why I am posting them: most are not online, because they were published before the Internet and Google became big: my novel was published by Viking Penguin in India without any of the Western fanfare, buzz, and big advances that accompanied a few other novels that came out around then. It was also: very, very different from anything ever written (regardless of what Madhu Jain says), sexually uninhibited, and playing with the rules of language and challenging every known sacred cow. So the reviewers may have felt hesitant about giving the novel their unqualified support; realizing they were dealing with an unknown quantity, and knowing that in India at the time (we’ve come far since then, or have we?) the very words “Kama Sutra” often elicited hypocritical and sniggering laughter from many repressed fellow Indians, they had to hedge their bets.
These reviews are also published to partly offset the hush-hush publication of The Revised Kama Sutra by HarperCollins in October 2010–the “launch” was in an obscure bookshop, and no one heard of it, and the p.r. said the novel was a “classic” that had been published “20 years back” when in fact, it had been 17 years, and by David Davidar, former boss of HarperCollins’s present editor-in-chief. I attended a real HarperCollins launch the next day–it was for another author–in a 5-star hotel, packed with literati and the press.