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A Life Apart
 
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A Life Apart [Format Kindle]

Neel Mukherjee
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Ritwik Ghosh, twenty-two and recently orphaned, finds the chance to start a new life when he arrives in England from Calcutta. But to do so, he must not only relive his entire past but also try and understand it. Moreover, he must make sense of his relationship with his mother - scarred, abusive and all-consuming.But Oxford holds little of the salvation Ritwik is looking for. Instead he moves to London, where he drops out of official existence into a shadowy hinterland of illegal immigrants. However, the story that Ritwik writes to stave off his utter and complete loneliness - a Miss Gilby who teaches English, music and Western manners to the wife of educated zamindar - begins to find ghostly echoes in his life with his aged landlady, Anne Cameron.And then, one night, in the badlands of King's Cross, Ritwik runs into Zafar bin Hashm, suave, impossibly rich, unfathomable, possible arms dealer. What does the drive to redemption hold for lost Ritwik?Set in 1970s and 80s India, 90s England and in the first decade of twentieth-century Bengal, A Life Apart is a scalding novel about dislocations and alienations, about the tenuous and unconscious intersections of lives and histories and about the consolations of storytelling. Above all, it is about the impossibilities of love.

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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Un écrivain à suivre 8 mai 2012
Par P. Babin
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
J'ai été amené à lire ce roman à cause de la chaude recommandation qui en a été faite sur LCI ( Le choix des Libraires ) par le libraire de " La Griffe Noire " . J'ai lu ce roman en anglais et j'ai été très intéressé par ce premier livre d'un jeune romancier indien . Une belle réussite , à mon avis . J'en ai trouvé la construction très intelligente et très subtile ( la mise en abyme de l'histoire de Ritwik avec celle de Miss Gilby - son côté " Heat and Dust " - qui , au fond , se rejoignent étrangement , tout à la fin du livre ) . De plus , cette histoire poignante révèle la face violente de l'Angleterre urbaine , de Londres , bien sûr , avec son immigration clandestine , ses trafics illicites , ses marginaux . La fin du roman est bouleversante .
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  6 commentaires
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A lonely life 1 mars 2010
Par Reader Breeder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
An intense and thoughtful record of a raw life lived on the margins. The author has blended the past and present illustrating the lives of two very different people at turbulent times and managed to provide a fast-paced story that engrosses and never fails to deliver surprises. I was drawn in quickly and compelled to keep reading. The characters were well drawn and very believable, similar in their aloneness and the disappointments that life brings. An amazing debut.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Moving, shocking and graphic 1 mai 2010
Par Kindle Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
This book won a prestigious Indian literary prize although under another title. (Past Continuous) Why on earth do publishers do this? Any one like myself who has their attention brought to the book by all the publicity surrounding the prize then has the struggle to find the book, only to find it has been staring at them all the time, hidden in plain sight. Luckily I persevered, as other reviewers have said, it's very hard to believe such a multi layered book is a first novel. It is moving, heart wrenching, honest, and at times shocking. The multi layered plot works well, giving insights into the main character as you need them, rather than just being used as a writing gimmick. This is an author I think we will be meeting again in many other prize shortlists in the future. Read him before the bandwagon departs.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Two good books! 27 décembre 2010
Par Ripple - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
When a gay, Indian student decides to stay on in London after his university education, he finds himself deep in the shadowy world of the black economy. As he writes a tale of pre-partition India to alleviate his loneliness, the story within a story and his real life experience start to come together in this complex, rich and intelligent book.

As the title suggests, Neel Mukherjee's debut novel concerns the plight of people on the outside of life. First publishes in India under the title `Past Continuous', we follow the central character, Ritwik, from India where he is first encountered arranging his mother's funeral days after the death of his father, to England where he attends Oxford University before deciding to stay on as an illegal immigrant in London. You certainly get value for money with this book as you who get two books for the price of one, as Ritwik is also writing a book of his own depicting life of a Miss Gilby who teaches English and Western manners to the wife of a liberal zamindar in the final days of pre-partition, British India.

It's a staggeringly ambitious novel, even more so when you consider that it is Mukherjee's first. Often the `book within a book' technique can be disappointing with one story eclipsing the other, but here both stories are equally enthralling and of course there are common themes that become evident as the stories progress, but this is subtly handled and never over-played.

Mukherjee uses a number of story-telling techniques to relate this tale. Once Ritwik gets to Oxford, which represents most of the first half of the book, he switches between the present and the character's coming out and hidden gay scene which compounds his sense of `otherness' that an Indian studying in Oxford has, and flash-backs to his severe upbringing. Ritwik comes from a relatively poor background (although by some Indian standards, maybe not that bad as he attends a Catholic school) with a violently domineering mother. At home, Ritwik's sense of otherness is down to this education and he does not adhere to any of the religious influences in which he grows up.

Partly because of the flash-back approach and partly due to the almost episodic approach to time frames, interspersed as it is with the story of Miss Gilby that he is writing to fill his time, the effect is a little confusing and messy. I'm not sure I ever really bought into his Oxford education, where he is reading English Literature, and he seems to spend no time doing any work as such. It does allow some strong metaphors with that other great outsider at university, Hamlet, though. There are odd jumps in what has clearly happened - such as his coming out to fellow students - that one moment is presumed to be a secret (and he certainly is involved in the more hidden side of the gay scene picking up people from an underground loo) and the next minute this seems to be common knowledge. In fact, although he has much that makes his life `apart' from those of his fellow students, there is remarkably (and admirably) little sense of discrimination in this part of his life.

Perhaps that's his problem - because this leads him to trying to stay in the UK after his course ends and, without a visa, he is forced into the black economy. This phase of his life accounts for the second half of the book and is much the more engrossing as Mukherjee abandons the flash-back technique. True there are still some strange leaps in time, but by and large these are better explained allowing the reader to orientate themselves more in the progression of the story.

Best of all, in the second half, we meet Anne Cameron, an old lady suffering from dementia, with whom Ritwik stays offering care in exchange for board allowing him to work in the fruit picking black economy of the illegal immigrant. Anne is a terrific character and really steels the show from thereon in. While of course some of the information in the first half of the book is important to the story, I cannot help the sense that the second half of the book is by far the superior. Maybe I just wanted to find out more about Anne.

In the final quarter of the book, Mukherjee introduces another game-changing and interesting r character - the mysterious rich Arab Zafar bin Hashm who becomes a kind of sugar daddy for Ritwik for a while. Like Anne, Zafar is a character that you just want to read more about. As all these characters' lives come together, including the plight of Miss Gilby, Ritwik's comes apart.

It's a book of enormous depth and complexity one that I enjoyed more an more as the story progressed, although at times in the first half I found it a bit disjointed. There are some aspects that didn't ring true - for example, Ritwik claims no knowledge of computers at some point although it is hard to imaging how he has avoided them while studying at a modern Oxford University. It encompasses the whole gamut of Daily Mail issues (with the notable exception of Princess Diana) from illegal immigration and homosexuality to care for the elderly and the arms trade. I am in no doubt that Neel Mukherjee is a writer to look out for in the future.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An English woman in Bengal; a Bengali in England 25 juin 2011
Par Ralph Blumenau - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The book appears to be two stories, told in alternate chapters and set in different type.

One is the story of Ritwik Ghosh, a young man born in Calcutta around 1970. It begins with his childhood in an extended family. (No need to remember the many names and relationships - they soon disappear.) Ritwik's mother is an unbelievable sadistic disciplinarian; but both his parents die when he is 21. At the age of 23, he wins a scholarship to Oxford, and determines never to return to India. He regularly cottages in the public lavatories in Oxford; the descriptions of this activity are graphic and prolonged. When his student visa runs out, he stays in England illegally. He becomes the lodger and carer of an 86 year-old widow, Anne Cameron, who had once lived in India but was now living in Brixton. The descriptions of this lady - her mind often wandering, but at other times suddenly very lucid - are superb, as is the tender way in which Ritwick looks after her. But at times he also earns some money by doing back-breaking work during the day on fruit farms, exploited alongside other illegal immigrants, while on some evenings he rents himself out by cruising, dangerously, in the King's Cross area.

The other story is set in Bengal, mainly during the turbulent period between 1903 and 1905 when the British Raj was dividing the country between Western (mainly Hindu) and Eastern (mainly Muslim) Bengal, to the fury of the Hindus. The central character here is Maud Gilby, who is employed as "governess" (tutor) and companion to the wife of a Hindu landowner presiding over a largely Muslim village.

We are well into the second half of the book, on page 201, before we get a hint of what the link between these two stories might be - but that first suggestion is misleading; only later we gather from a couple of throwaway lines what the real link is. But at least I found here a possible explanation why the style of the second story is at times rather stodgy and lacks the brilliance of the first story.

There are occasional touches of surrealism in the novel - such as the appearance of brilliant oriental birds perched on a tree in a Brixton garden.

Mukherjee packs a lot of different stories into this his first novel, and though each of them is interesting in itself, I think they do not properly cohere. Many critics obviously think otherwise: the book was the winner of India's premier literary prize in 2009.

Four stars. An English woman in Bengal; a Bengali in England.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A roller coaster of a read, 1 novembre 2010
Par Kiwifunlad - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle
I read this book a couple of years ago when it was published as Past Continuous and while I found parts of the novel very enthralling and well written, I found the intertwining of the two stories very uneven and the plot became increasingly ragged as it neared its rather sensationalist and unrealistic ending.
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