Ingratiating request in a bottle

I should be reading Shakespeare but as usual my good intentions have been coshed and bundled into the nearest Godrej. On the good side I have written a less than bleaargh poem and finally read an Inspector Ghote mystery. I am rather shocked at how good HRF Keating is because he supposedly wrote ten Ghote mysteries set in Mumbai before ever visiting India. I am sure I should be appalled at Keating and those German scholars. Max Mueller famously never visited India and did all his work in English while living in England. But the Germans’ excuse is that they were not interested in contemporary India anyway since it had decayed and rotted after its golden Aryan age. I am trying to imagine what are the chances of anybody ever publishing a novel I decided to set in downtown Munich or in Manchester without ever having been there.  Hmph.

Though Ghote’s broken English is frequently irritating when you read it thirty years later, his inward musings never jar. I mean, you don’t find yourself leaping out of the sofa yelling, “What rot! We don’t think like that!”

Alexander McCall Smith of the Precious Ramotswe series says if he had to pick a style closest to his own, it would be the Inspector Ghote series because there is such low emphasis on the crime. If at all there is one in the book. Certainly there are similarities in the mild, polite worlds created by both authors. A 1950s review of Ghote might describe the Precious Ramotswe series as well. "
Lively and witty, and, though highly artificial and contrived, grips as a really good set of false teeth should."

Ashok Banker said at some point: “Bombay still awaits a truly worthy detective series - or several of them - to explore the city's unique beauty, charm and sleaze. Ghote was a worthy attempt, and certainly the only commercially successful one abroad. Now, what we need is a detective series that Indians will enjoy and buy in great numbers. Even if I damn well have to write it myself.” And then changed his mind and disavowed interest in the genre. Hmmm. I had hopes of Vikram Chandra when I first read Kama from Love and Longing but that’s gone now.

So this is the time for all good people to step forward. I long for a juicy Indian murder mystery. We can’t let white people have all the fun.


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