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The Sly Company of People Who Care: A Novel…

The Sly Company of People Who Care: A Novel

by Rahul Bhattacharya

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Guyana had the feel of an accidental place. Partly it was the epic indolence. Partly it was the ethnic composition. In the slang of the street there were chinee, putagee, buck, coolie, blackman, and the combinations emanating from these, a separate and large lexicon. On the ramble in such a land you could encounter a story every day.

The twenty-something Indian narrator returns to Guyana, where he once spent a week, seeking relief from his restlessness. He plans to spend a year there and then return to India. He doesn't have a goal other than to observe the culture and see as much of the country as possible. Over the course of the year he forms loose partnerships with a string of individuals who become short-term traveling companions.

Parts of the book are very good, and the rest is either over my head or ineffective. Most of the conversations are written in Guyanese street slang and it makes very difficult reading. There are frequent references to alternative music genres that are completely unfamiliar to me. The book has won some literary prizes and been shortlisted for others, so maybe it's just me. I know I'm not the right audience for the book. However, I'm having trouble deciding who would be in the target audience. I'm not certain that even readers who read mostly from among the short- or long-lists for literary prizes will have the patience for this one. I stuck it out because of its descriptions of Guyana, which is why I wanted to read it in the first place. I couldn't help wondering why the author chose to write this as a novel when it would have made a very good literary travel book. Guyana is a very small nation, with a population of less than 1 million. Perhaps the author thought it would be safer to distance himself from his Guyanese acquaintances through fiction. ( )
  cbl_tn | Oct 30, 2014 |
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All this was Dutch. Then, like so much else, it was English. - James Salter, Light Years.
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Life, as we know, is a living, shrinking affair, and somewhere down the line I became taken with the idea that man and his world should be renewed on a daiy basis.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374265852, Hardcover)

In flight from the tame familiarity of home in Bombay, a twenty-six-year-old cricket journalist chucks his job and arrives in Guyana, a forgotten colonial society of raw, mesmerizing beauty. Amid beautiful, decaying wooden houses in Georgetown, on coastal sugarcane plantations, and in the dark rainforest interior scavenged by diamond hunters, he grows absorbed with the fantastic possibilities of this new place where descendants of the enslaved and indentured have made a new world. Ultimately, to fulfill his purpose, he prepares to mount an adventure of his own. His journey takes him beyond Guyanese borders, and his companion will be the feisty, wild-haired Jan.

In this dazzling novel, propelled by a singularly forceful voice, Rahul Bhattacharya captures the heady adventures of travel, the overheated restlessness of youth, and the paradoxes of searching for life’s meaning in the escape from home.

The Sly Company of People Who Care is the winner of the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:48 -0400)

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A cricket journalist quits his job to relocate to Guyana, where he immerses himself in its decaying wooden houses, sugarcane plantations, and diamond-hunter-scavenged rain forest before going on an adventure with the feisty Jan.

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