இது நண்பர் பாலாஜியின் பதிவு. சென்னையிலிருந்து திரும்பி வரும்போது பி.ஏ. கிருஷ்ணனின் “Muddy River” புத்தகத்தை ஆங்கிலத்தில் படித்து அதைப் பற்றி எழுதி இருக்கிறார். இது தமிழில் “கலங்கிய நதி” என்று வெளியாகி இருக்கிறது. ஆங்கில வடிவம் அமேசானில் கிடைக்கிறது.
I liked this novel, though I think புலிநகக் கொன்றை is a better work.
The structure is a novel(“This Street has no other side”) inside the main novel (“Muddy River”), with the novel TSHNOS being critiqued and revised in the main piece. In addition, MR itself is a supposedly fictional account of Mr.Krishnan’s experiences in Assam. So, the intrigue extends to what has been fictionalized from real life, and what has been altered in TSHNOS from MR itself. A complex multi-layered piece! Here, I think it works for the most part. The criticisms that we would have on TSHNOS are already mostly addressed in MR. I think when we pick this book for discussion, whether this literary device worked or not would be a main debate point.
The characters are all well read and the constant name dropping and literary references is often tangential and doesn’t go well with the flow of the novel. Characters that meet for the first time talk about Hardy and his poems. The main character’s wife sees an abstract religious painting by Albert Herbert and quickly recognizes it and even points out how the painting differs from the original! There are enough marxist references, quotes from Gandhi’s works and other sundry english authors that the novel could have done without.
– The interesting tidbits are the ones that Mr.Krishnan throws out in passing – an exhibitionist bureaucrat, the argument over what nuts to buy in meetings, intricacies of delhi government life and the pecking order. This is sprinkled generously to keep the reader interested.
At the core, Mr.Krishnan just falls short of what he hoped to achieve. His intentions are twofold, one to expose the amount of corruption in public sector. Two, to highlight the political thought process of the locals in Assam. For one, the kind of revelation that he brings out hardly startles us. We are so used to reading about bigger and better worked out corruption that this doesn’t even make us take a step back and ponder over the issue. About Assam, I just felt like what I read had no relevance and was dated on arrival. Every region has a story, and Assam’s history as brought out in this book is hardly intriguing. Probably, this is just my point of view now, but I had no enthusiasm to read about north east states’ struggle to stay in/out of the country and feel empathetic to the concerns.
I liked the constant underlying philosophical tussle between an old fashioned Gandhian way (that the author and his father hold) and the marxist PoV brought forth by the rebels. That is the strong point of this book. I think this is where the book moves up a couple of notches from just being a fast paced political thriller. The part of the novel where the father of the author (and subsequently the author) tries to make a visit to Rajghat stands out, a brilliant and heart-felt piece of writing.
In puli nagak konRai and in this novel, the protagonist is not one who acts decisively and makes history. Rather, he is a bystander and often is indecisive, and finally history just passes him by and sweeps him away. I was happy to see this thread continue in Muddy River as well, as this captures the psyche of Mr.Krishnan’s generation of TamBrahms very well. This can be another important piece for discussion. Mr.Krishnan had two layers in which he could have portrayed his protagonist as a hero. Rather, he chooses to present a more realistic portrayal.