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Ghachar Ghochar

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  10,033 ratings  ·  1,590 reviews
A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes overnight. As they move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house on the other side of Bangalore, and try to adjust to a new way of life, the family dynamic begins to shift. Allegiances realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter; ...more
Kindle Edition, 128 pages
Published December 10th 2015 by HarperPerennial (first published 2013)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is exactly why I love short books. With 119 pages Shanbhag managed to completely enthral me, had me nodding along, basically had me going "oooo!" and "ahhhh!"

This is a story about how a family goes from poor to rich and how it completely tears them apart. Not in a "everyone hates everyone because they're now spoiled rotten" way, but in a "how does a family that worked together as a community rewire itself to work as a family that is made up of individuals with no interdependence?" .... FAS
At my touch, the striking cover of this book leapt up and stood suspended at my eye-level. As if to escape this loggerhead-state, I bored through its skin amid a question - what does this image wish to convey? Unity? Mess? Greed? Asymmetry? Power? Victory? Abandonment? Confusion? Culture? Habit? All? None? Not quite able to coalesce all these floating words into a single bubble of appreciable mass, I threw aside my pondering gauntlet and opened the first page. I began reading, and read a little ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor
In Bangalore, India a young man sits in a coffee shop. It is a place he comes to often, morning and evening, he is convinced that the waiter Vincent has insights into life that he badly needs. As he works up his courage to tell Vincent his story, he ponder the many changes in his family.

Once poor, living in only four rooms that connected front to back, a mother, father, sister and brother as well as their uncle all live together. There is a certain progression of stays that is silently acknowled
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A high 4 stars. When I finished Ghachar Ghochar, I read the author's brief biography at the end of the book, and wasn't surprised to see that he had written several plays. This very short novel has the tightness of a good play. Set in Bangalore, India, the first person narrator tells us about his family's recent rise to wealth and the attendant consequences. The story is short and told very simply, but the understated nature of the narrative is deceiving. You don't know what the story is really ...more
A line in the book sums this one up perfectly 'It's true what they say - it's not we who control the money, it's the money that controls us'. Such a small, short book but it packs such a punch. Ghachar Ghochar tells the story of one Indian family. You get an in-depth look at Indian culture and family dynamics. I am always fascinated by anything about India and this one did not disappoint. The story tells how one family, living in poverty, are closer than you can believe. They enjoy the company o ...more
Ghachar Ghochar is perhaps one of the first books in recent times that interested me because of its title. The unique nature of the title and its surrounding simplicity attracted me and made me want to read this book. Added to this is the fact that the cover is one of the most beautiful covers that I have seen and this is not solely due to its aesthetic appeal but more due to its simplicity and its ability to convey a message that is both simple and true.

Despite having bought this book, I could
Em Lost In Books
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Em Lost In Books by: Srividya
"When you have no choice, you have no discontent either."

Had been on my tbr for more a year and would have gathered dust for longer, had it not been recommended to me by my buddy. A short but a lovely and touching story.
Iris P
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Iris P by: Esil
Ghachar Ghochar

★★★★ 4 ½ Spellbinding Stars!

“When you have no choice, you have no discontent either.”
― Vivek Shanbhag - Ghachar Ghochar


Recently there's been lots of discussions about the plight and struggles of the working middle class, both in the United States and in Europe. Something we hear less about thought is the anxiety experienced by people who had recently made their way up the economic ladder, particularly those who live in t
That ending. Honestly, I didn’t expect that and I listened to the last 20 minutes of this book twice to make sure I understood what the author was insinuating. Brilliantly done and I’m glad this was my last read of January

2021 is the year of translated works. I read quite a bit of manga which is technically translated; however, my ultimate goal is to broaden my horizons in relationship to translations. Ghachar Ghochar wasn’t on my radar. I randomly found the audiobook and made the decision to gi
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I found out about this book after reading a review from my book friend, PorshaJo, and she generously gifted me her copy to read. So thoughtful of you, PJ, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was struck by the sparse, to-the-point prose, and coincidentally, I finished Kent Haruf's Our Souls at Night yesterday, which shared a similar writing style of saying more with less. When I got to the end of this novella about unplanned wealth's effect on a family, at first, I was greedy. I wanted the story to co ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god. What was that ending? I need an answer. Such an amazing book. God. I am restless. Help me - what was that ending?????
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag was translated from the Indian language Kannada. This book is pretty famous so I was curious to see what the hype was all about. Most reviews said that this book made them nostalgic about old Bangalore. There were few times it did make me nostalgic but overall it was pretty meh.

The one star is just because I was able to relate to some descriptions in the book like putting rangoli in the morning and such simple incidents. I still couldn't relate to a lot of thing
Riku Sayuj
There are three Acts to this short explosive novel.

The first is Pastoral.
The second is Modern
And the third is Post-Modern

Vivek traces many patterns in this beguiling work. Invokes nostalgia, aversion, and unease. He examines the evolution of family life, he examines the evolution of city life, he examines the nation’s morality over time, he examines the attitude to authority, he examines our proclivity to authoritarianism, he examines the role of journalism… what else? Quite a bit more, or so I
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sumati by: Seemita's Review
Translated literary pieces frequently fail to transport the original essence of a story as rendering the meaning of a text into another language in the way that the author intended is difficult. But, often than not there is a lot in a book, that falls casualty to the exigencies of translation, there is simply no alternative. I personally don’t like translated scripts and have a suspicion towards something that is not the original. Having said that, most of my favorite books are translated pieces ...more
Richard Derus
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gifted
Rating: 4.5* of five

Reading Is Resistance to selective blindness about violence against women.

Excellent book, Penguin Books should be proud of introducing English-language readers to yet another amazing voice.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Poonam by: Parthiban Sekar
Shelves: contemporary
3.5 stars

One of the commendable things about this book is that in small set of pages a lot of things are conveyed. There are soo many things revealed by subtle nuances of words.....

Originally written in Kannada, I read the English translation. The translation is well done and makes for an easy read.

The story starts off with a man reminiscing about his child-hood days. The first half of the story is a flashback to his childhood days, the struggles of lower middle class family and the happiness fo
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are first introduced to Vincent, sitting in a Coffee House in Bangalore and avoiding responsibility. From there we spiral outward to his family as they navigate their suddenly changed situation and newfound wealth. Money affords them a laissez faire ruthlessness. They are sharp edges to those outside the family unit. The intricate dependencies on each other in poverty binds them in wealth. It’s a fine balance ;) A tiny book, easily read and beautifully done. Frankly some of the reviews are al ...more
The message of this incredible book distills to a simple phrase: Money changes everything.

The book begins with a near-perfect description of the unnamed main character's ritual of going to his cafe/sanctuary, and meeting with his barista/guru. I read this section three times as I loved it that much. The story opens up and becomes a parable (of sorts), detailing a family's rise from poverty to wealth. We see how each character changes - in looks, personality, personal tastes - in a very short am
This book took me on a memory trip like no other. I can't quite put a finger on what exactly could be reason for this, but I felt like I knew everything that happened in this book first hand. It felt like I knew the people in this book, like they were some kind of am extended family. The events throughout the book caused me pain like they were happening right in front of me, and the language kept it more than real.

Many times,I noticed that I stopped whatever para it was that I was reading, and
Tanuj Solanki
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, india, 2015, kannada
A pre-LPG (both meanings of LPG relevant here) Indian joint family bumps into money, and metamorphoses into a monster. Shanbhag's achievement is not falling into the easy trap of nostalgia. He does, however, provide only a unilateral view of money's effects, which may be pardoned here considering the word count. The book is, in fact, the perfect size. ...more
4.5 stars.
Perhaps I wouldn't have read this book, if Srividya had not mentioned in a thread that the kindle edition is being sold at reduced rates, and Girish immediately replying that he's bought it. My curiosity was piqued. I went through the blurb and a few reviews and decided to try it out.
The deceptively simple story of a lower middle class Bangalorean family sucked me in to a world layered with blood ties, tactics and duplicity. The family consisted of father, mother, their children - a gi
Shoa Khan
"When you have no choice, you have no discontent either."
A very quick, albeit intense read, that I read in its entirety on my flight back. This is the story of a noveau-rich family, and the intricate ties that bind them together, and also threaten to snap with all the money and all the accompanying changes that have entered their lives.
This was an engaging read, and would have got a full 5-star rating from me, had it not been for the open and abrupt ending, which is something I really do not
Anirban Nanda
Have you ever felt this?
You read a book and you cry simply because of the way the story is told. The events are not that tragic but you always want to cry only because the tenderness of the language. It is like someone is showering love unconditionally over you.
I never felt this affection while reading another book. It was like someone was caressing my hair and telling me story about a simple family.
Why have not I read this before? Why is this not a bestseller?
A masterpiece. Simply, with no if
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I had heard of Ghachar Ghochar quite some time back, I got around to reading it only now. As I had expected, I had a good time reading it.

The narrator of the story is unnamed – he lives in a joint family with his uncle, father, mother, elder sister Malati and wife Anita. The cultural setting is distinctly (South) Indian. This is a family which has come into riches from difficult times. The father loses his job. At this time, the uncle starts a spice trading enterprise called ‘Sona Masala’
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
I still remember reading this novella two years ago and (wonder of wonders!) I still remember everything so vividly.

It talks about a family which used to live in a house with only two rooms to living in a big house all because of the success of a family business.

This novella impressively shows the transition of the attitude and behaviour of the family members throughout this process. The sister is one of the most dramatic, unlikeable characters I have ever come across. She's petty, selfish and
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Read this! It is a wonderful story that is distinctly Indian. In 100 pages Shanbhag manages to bring out fleshed out characters, a typical lower middle class family and the tangled web of sudden wealth.

For more -
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I just realized I never wrote a review of this book, and now 10 days after reading it, I'm conflicted. It is well-written and there is a morality tale/parable quality to the story, with a surprise ending.

The love of money is the root of all evil? Sudden riches can corrupt? Nothing new about that. I was also disturbed by the way women and their role within the family were depicted. Perhaps that is the way it just is, but there was no commentary about it.

After giving it some thought, I'm downgrad
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Don’t miss out on this gem of a novella, the first work of Indian fiction to be translated from Kannada into English. A rags-to-riches tale set in modern Bangalore, its simplicity is deceptive, and the unnerving events punctuating this seemingly white-picket-fence story are utterly riveting. Shanbhag’s been called India’s Chekhov; I don’t know about that, but I do know I want to press this wonderful piece of fiction into your hands.
Khyati Gautam
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ghachar Ghochar - a quaint word with absurd structure, meaning entangled, remains a secret of a select few, describes the reality just so aptly.

I have always been reluctant to pick translated books. This for a simple reason for missing out on the quintessential essence of any literary work. Although this had been a baseless notion, I have borne a brief that a story loses its meaning in the process of translation. The intent loosens, the fragility of intent breaks, and I experience a certain inex
Indrani Sen
Apr 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
Finished the book today. The cloudy afternoon with no power was utilized for this quick read.

The book is very well-written no doubt. I could empathize with the situation of one earner and the others tiptoeing around him. But somehow that kind of sudden wealth with almost no contribution from anyone from the family or the change to so much worthless spending seemed a little difficult to digest. As someone trying to run a business, I see more austerity than before (when had a cushy corporate job).
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“it’s not we who control money, it’s the money that controls us. When there’s only a little, it behaves meekly; when it grows, it becomes brash and has its way with us.” 33 likes
“When you have no choice, you have no discontent either.” 26 likes
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