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The Lives of Others
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May 2018: Family Drama > the lives of others - 2.5 stars

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Idit | 1028 comments I am bewildered by this book. Or to be specific - I don’t get what was he trying to do!

We have this big book with a cast of many - The Ghosh clan - grandparents, siblings, wives, kids, servant... just to name the main characters. All live together. Not one of them really relatable. No, really! The author goes out of his way to make them less likable and less relatable.
None of them goes through some sort of a change or developes. So they start the story unpleasant and end it unpleasant.

It might be weird, but after thinking about it for few hours, I have a new theory: I think that the main characters (the whole Ghosh family) are not actually the main characters. They are there to highlight the lives of others. The poor, the farmers that their land is stolen and they become basically slaves. Even though officially it’s not their stories that we read, they are the heros. They are the only ones that are described with any fondness by the author

Considering the book-ends (both the prologue and the second epilogue) follow poor people from the farmlands - I think my theory holds water.

So why 2.5 stars?
The book is interesting. The culture, the time in history, the family.
But it’s asking quite a bit of the reader to follow the basically very unpleasant Ghosh family through 600 pages - just to make a point.

And even though the writing and world building were more than decent, I have few complaints here as well - There are two places where he start gushing (and gushing) about mathematic in a way that felt really childish. It felt really naive of the author and totally not in line with anything else in the book.
The other point was the main Ghosh character - Supratik. He is supposed to be a mastermind of sorts in the naxalite (radical communist movement at the time and a big part of the story). But nothing in his narrative makes him seem especially smart or strategic.
I feel like the author didn’t know how to write him and we ended up reading about Supratik experiences in farming. It’s very interesting, but he is very important for the story and I think the author failed in building him.

I think the topic is very important - the unfairness of how extremely poor some people can be while others leave their comfortable petty lives.
But I just didn't like the book's heart


message 2: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Good review. I think I will avoid this one as I don’t like reading about all dislikable characters.


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