Title: The Arrangements of Love
Author: Timeri N. Murari
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: Personal Copy
‘The Arrangements of Love’ is a quest for old & forgotten relationships. Packed with bits of Family Saga, Detective work & the American Dream of Indians, The Arrangements of Love is a riveting book.
About the Author
Timeri N. Murari is an Indian novelist, journalist, playwright and screenwriter. He is the author of fourteen published novels, including best-sellers The Taliban Cricket Club and Taj , and has written extensively for Indian and international newspapers including ‘The Guardian’.
From America… To India
The Arrangements of Love tells the story of a boy named Nikhil, living in America with his mother & step dad. His mother, Sushma aka Susie (in America) has a past buried in India. The novel starts with Nikhil’s decision to go to India, to find his real father- who he thought was long dead.
One day, Nikhil finds an old copy of a novel titled Georgetown, placed carefully in the folds of a sari, in a suitcase, that belongs to his mother. Nikhil wants to stage that novel, which is actually written by his own father.
On reaching India, Nikhil tries to trace his father with help of a detective named Apu. But soon Nikhil discovers that India has its own tricks to play on him. The police thinks that he is a terrorist. In his hotel, he finds a baby crocodile. He is bewildered by the turn of events. While his father, S.K. Naidu, refuses to acknowledge him as his son, it is Apu who brings solace to him.
Nikhil finds himself drawn towards Apu, whose own wounds need healing. Will Nikhil be able to get the love of his father? Is there something in store for Nikhil and Apu? Or are there paths as distinct as America and India? The novel unfolds answers to these questions with use of an unusual narrative technique.
The story of the novel is gripping and keeps us hooked. The first thing that one notices after reading a few pages is the use of a special narrative technique. The author has employed the technique of multiple Point of Views (POVs). The story unfolds from 4 main characters’ POV. A shift in POV marks the end of a chapter & the beginning of the next.
This technique was new for me and I enjoyed it. It just felt like reading several different novels at the same time. I’m sure, almost, everyone will like it. The novel has several sub-themes.
The author highlights the attitude of Indians settled in America. Most of these want to get rid of their Indianness. This is portrayed through the character of Nikhil’s mother, Sushma who calls herself Susie. She tries her level best to completely Americanize her son. She is against Nikhil’s decision of going to India.
The author also offers a bitter criticism of the institution of marriage- both arranged as well as love. He shows how fidelity is of little importance to people as compared to sex. It is a fact, that I personally despise. People prefer sex over a loyal partner. Besides this, the theme of red-tapism & corruption also raises head.
The difficulties faced by foreigners in some other country, human threat to nature and the Indians’ longing for America, all have a place in this novel. Despite these diverse elements, one might start losing interest in the story after reading about 200 pages. It is because the main track gets over & it is only for the sake of a few subplots that we have to read till the end. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, which I did not like.
The novel has been aptly titled. It is, indeed, a depiction of various ways in which love is arranged in the lives of the characters. I enjoyed this book and I’m planning to pick up one more book by the author.
My Rating: **** (4/5)
What do you think about this book? Have you read any other book by the same author? What are your views on the technique of multiple POVs? Do share your thoughts. Thanks.
Available for purchase on Amazon.in.