Guardian Newspaper 1000 Novels discussion

Kim
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Monthly Book Reads > Kim - June 2017

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Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Here is the thread for June 2017's Crime read.

I will start on audiobook once I finish my current book. Who will be joining me?


Leslie | 825 comments I won't be rereading this but may join in the discussion. Perhaps I will watch the film as a refresher!


Darren (dazburns) | 637 comments Mod
Just started this today
20 pages in and going well so far...!
;o)


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
So...to current or past Kim readers, why is this in the crime category? I am 1/3 of the way through the book, and it seems more State of the Nation or even Family and Self. But crime, definitely not.

Due to the little mistake with placing Tristram Shandy in the crime section last month, I even double checked! We are firmly in crime here...


message 5: by Christopher (last edited Jun 10, 2017 01:46PM) (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 231 comments Kaycie wrote: "So...to current or past Kim readers, why is this in the crime category? I am 1/3 of the way through the book, and it seems more State of the Nation or even Family and Self. But crime, definitely no..."
Hazarding a guess, I would suggest Crime is short for "Crime and Espionage."

I think KIM can be considered a spy novel.


Leslie | 825 comments I agree with Christopher that it is crime in the way Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is -- not at all really, but spy/thriller which is often lumped into the crime category (not just in the Guardian's list).


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
So shortly after I posted this, I got into the espionage part of the novel and did figure out at least why they thought it might fit this category. I have since finished the book, though, and have to pretty strongly disagree with putting this at all in the same category as a Le Carre! Kim was a novel about espionage in the same way that a Le Carre like The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is a love story - it's there, and you can see it, but it shouldn't be the first classification that comes to mind.

When looking at the Guardian's list again, though, I saw that To Kill a Mockingbird is also on the Crime list, which is just frankly ridiculous, so I guess this is just me disagreeing with the category rankings once again.

What Kim actually is, though, is a coming of age novel of a young boy who is neither English nor Indian growing up in India during a time of great turmoil (hello, Family and Self category!) The novel contains rich descriptions of the landscape, people, and foods of various regions of India, giving the reader a rather sweeping view of the country. (hello, State of the Nation, especially when combined with the politics!)

For me, the story of the boy and the lama was by far the shining star, and the rest felt like just filler. I was much less interested in (view spoiler)

Overall, I liked this book, but wasn't enthralled. I think it suffered first from being not what I expected and then later from trying to incorporate the part that I expected all along when I was then preferring the original story line.


Darren (dazburns) | 637 comments Mod
finished a few days ago - thought I'd posted on here, but apparently not!

herewith I copy/paste my review:

"Superbly written and immersive/authentic-feeling wrt life in India at the time, with wonderfully realised characters/dialogue. A little lacking in plot, but it's sometimes a relief to read something where there are no major traumas/jeopardy and most people are mostly good and getting on with getting on. Basically a 3.5-Star, but rounded up to 4 cos it was just so simply enjoyable to read!"


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Do you agree with the placing in the crime category?

Did we have any other Kim readers this month?


Leslie | 825 comments I would personally have put it in the War and Travel category (which is where I look for adventure stories). I suspect that with 1000 books, not all of them were looked at with the attention that they should have had. In fact, there are at least 2 books on the list which are not even novels! (My Family and Other Animals and Cider with Rosie are both memoirs and so, strictly speaking, don't belong on the list.)


Darren (dazburns) | 637 comments Mod
I never thought of War & Travel, but yes that would make some sense!
I would've leant towards Family & Self... or State of the Nation!! ;o)


Dennis Fischman (dfischman) | 130 comments I have an odd relationship with this book. I first read it when I was a boy, probably younger than Kim when he meets his lama at the beginning of the story. At that time, I knew nothing of India or Pakistan, or Afghanistan or Tibet, nothing of Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism, let alone Sikhs or Jains. To me, the world of Kim was like the world of Ged in A Wizard of EarthseaA Wizard of Earthsea: a fantastic creation of the imagination, with rules and magic of its own. It had the additional benefit of sending me to the dictionary again and again, to learn the meanings of words like theodolite and bonze.

Now I've read the book again, for the Guardian 100o book club here on Goodreads, and while it brings me back to childhood days, it makes me wonder about questions I'd never considered before. The author, Rudyard Kipling, displays his love for the region and its masala mix of cultures and languages at every turn. It's unmistakable, and it's part of the magic of the book. Is he like Kim, the "Sahib" who has become more comfortable among the "natives" than among his own?

And yet Kipling is also famously the author of the poem The White Man's Burden. The poem, and the phrase, have been used to justify colonalism and imperialism, and they certainly reek of the assumption of superiority. The emotion that stands out from the poem is frustration, however, not pride. I love India, he seems to say, but it does not love me back. I have to soldier on in spite of that, for its own good.

So now I wonder whether people throughout the subcontinent still read this book, and what they think of Kim, and Teshoo Lama, and Mahmud Ali, and Hurree Baba, and especially of the Great Game played between England and Russia where their own lands were the playing field.


Reading Progress
June 24, 2017 – Finished Reading

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Blog This Review
Copy/paste the text below into your blog. Kim Kim by Rudyard Kipling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have an odd relationship with this book. I first read it when I was a boy, probably younger than Kim when he meets his lama at the beginning of the story. At that time, I knew nothing of India or Pakistan, or Afghanistan or Tibet, nothing of Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism, let alone Sikhs or Jains. To me, the world of Kim was like the world of Ged in A Wizard of EarthseaA Wizard of Earthsea: a fantastic creation of the imagination, with rules and magic of its own. It had the additional benefit of sending me to the dictionary again and again, to learn the meanings of words like theodolite and bonze.

Now I've read the book again, for the Guardian 100o book club here on Goodreads, and while it brings me back to childhood days, it makes me wonder about questions I'd never considered before. The author, Rudyard Kipling, displays his love for the region and its masala mix of cultures and languages at every turn. It's unmistakable, and it's part of the magic of the book. Is he like Kim, the "Sahib" who has become more comfortable among the "natives" than among his own?

And yet Kipling is also famously the author of the poem The White Man's Burden. The poem, and the phrase, have been used to justify colonalism and imperialism, and they certainly reek of the assumption of superiority. The emotion that stands out from the poem is frustration, however, not pride. I love India, he seems to say, but it does not love me back. I have to soldier on in spite of that, for its own good.

So now I wonder whether people throughout the subcontinent still read this book, and what they think of Kim, and Teshoo Lama, and Mahmud Ali, and Hurree Baba, and especially of the Great Game played between England and Russia where their own lands were the playing field.



View all my reviews


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
What a fantastic review, Dennis! I am glad that you re-read it with us and were able to find something new in the novel. I really love that about books - that they are not static and fixed in paper like they may seem, but that they can grow and evolve with the reader.

I also saw the love Kipling has for India, and felt it shine through every page. It was a standout part of the book for me, and I do think it probably mirrors many of Kipling's own feelings about the country and his heritage. He was born in India, but schooled in Britain before again returning to India. I can imagine in that situation, it is hard to figure out exactly where one might belong!


message 14: by Bilwa (new)

Bilwa The relationship between Kim and the Lama stood out for me. The use of vernacular was spot on and the detailed description of India shines. The book felt like a State of the nation and family and self rolled into one for me. I will however admit that I need to evolve as a reader to appreciate its depth.


Kaycie | 455 comments Mod
It seems like we had really similar opinions of this book, Bilwa! Thanks for adding your comments.


message 16: by Phrodrick (last edited Jul 28, 2017 05:12PM) (new)

Phrodrick | 153 comments I hope the regulars do not mind this post so long after the discussions seems to have ended.

At about this time I was in a discussion at Amazon of this book. Based on that discussion I got interested in the larger theme of India and the Great Game.

Kim is more than a novel. And the Great Game was real - was and still is.

If Kim 'got' to you as an experience I recommended: Quest for Kim: In Search of Kipling's Great Game

The Author Peter Hopkirk is one of the go to Historians of The Great Game, and if you want a superior history of this time:
The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia

Kipling didnot invent the term The Great Game, but in Kim he moved the phrase into a popular referance.


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