The Elephanta Suite: Three Novellas
This startling, far-reaching book captures the tumult, ambition, hardship, and serenity that mark today’s India. Theroux’s Westerners risk venturing far beyond the subcontinent’s well-worn paths to discover woe or truth or peace. A middle-aged couple on v...more
Unqualified praise is but one response to any work by master stylist Paul Theroux for he is able to provoke, infuriate, annoy, anger, rile, stimulate and eventually persuade with equal facility.
His latest book, “The Elephanta Suite” sets out to slice through myriad and complex cultural layers that make up India. He does it with discommoding success. Mind you, a lot of what he says about India through his protagonists can be construed as an unabashed atte...more
I have this curiosity to know what the white man thinks of Indians. Its like fishing for compliments.Whenever a white skin of minor importance, because the majorly important give this place a wide berth, visits Cal, the inevitable question asked is, "Do you think that Calcutta is India's cultural capital???" Whatever that means.The charitably affirmative reply is lapped up gleefully and even makes near-headlines in the Telegragh.
The same mentality made me read Paul...more
"With the whole day ahead of her, she sat by the window and watched India slip by in a stream of simple images-women threshing grain on mats, men plowing with placid oxen, children jumping into muddy streams, clusters of houses baking in the sun..."
After adjusting to India--the days that followed were dream like and wonderful. She spent...more
"The sense that she was leaving one word for another was palpable: in the rising dust and the sound of impatient voices, the men shouting at the monkey temple, the smell of smoke, and other voices, the sharp Indian yell, meant to be heard at a distance and to make the hearer submit to it. The grating of traffic, too - heavy trucks, the laboring bus, all shuddering metal and hisses. And, farther from the clear air and the tidy gardens of Agni, the stink of the town - dirt, dung,...more
Dwight Huntsinger, lawyer and businessman, is traveling through India in The Gateway to India. His local colleagues instruct him on customs. He is a cautio...more
With The Elephanta Suite, prolific travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux wins favorable comparisons to Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. This suite of three novellas explores the gritty reality of American tourism in India: the book is not for those readers who seek another sunny portrait of an exotic land. As The Washington Post noted, "Theroux isn't likely to bring many new tourists to the subcontinent." As with much of Theroux's fiction, sexual and economic exploitation is the dominant th...more
Some of his descriptions are very good, but with few exceptions (the Jain, the mahout and...more
The writing wasn't horr...more
The first two stories are of Americans who happen to reside in the Elephanta Suite, one in a Mu...more
Thematically, of course, this is a very old trope: it's culture shock, it's 'India is older and wiser than we are,' it's the freedom to descend into one's one primi...more
These are three novellas set in India. They revolve around three sets or types of Americans in India. The most convincing is that of the young American female tourist. The other two are about an American businessman (in his forties) in Mumbai, and a middle-aged couple in a yoga camp or ashram.
The stories are all entertaining and very readable and the Indian settings conveyed by Paul Theroux are indeed vivid.
I do have a problem with why these people are in India - partic...more
What you get instead is a grim two-sided world. The pampered pale foreigners on one side, and the intricate mass of india on the other, both relying on dehumanizing usage patterns to survive. The Americans are clearly, brazenly using the Indians, and the Indians play on the...more
Monkey Hill tells the tale of a wealthy couple visiting an exclusive spa in India. Both husband and wife encounter sexual temptation and its frightening aftermath.
The Gateway of India focuses on a lawyer and business man, Dwight Huntsinger. When the story begins, he is terrified of everything outside of his luxurious hotel room and the boardroom. By the t...more
Paul Theroux’s latest novel, is actually a compilation of three novellas- each, a story at the Indo-american interface set in contemporary times. The first is rather a weak story of an American couple holidaying in an Indian spa; the second , perhaps the most intense of the three is a story of an American businessman forced to visit India because of his work and the last is about a young American backpacker. Interestingly, all the characters come to India with their own ide...more
The flow in The Elephanta Suite is incredible. The plot (all three of them) were deep and rich. Each ending was a learning experience for me, which was reached at the cost of being pushed and pulled by the writing with gross feelings of confusion and challenges.
I can't wait to get my hands on more Paul Theroux! Next on my list? Misquito Coast.