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Review: The Alchemy of Desire by Tarun J. Tejpal

June 7, 2010

I can see why many reviewers disliked The Alchemy of Desire. And as Jabberwock pointed out, V.S.Naipaul claiming that “this is the most brilliant stuff that has come out of India, ever”  is exactly the sort of thing that makes you want to not read it. Here’s a review that sums up my feelings on the brilliance.

What’s more, it’s a pretty racist book too. It gets blatantly crass when the novel takes a sharp right and talks about Catherine (white, American, colonial). She likes having sex with colored men because she, herself, is a sex-crazed lady so we must assume that only men of colour can satisfy her mountainous needs. Whatever. There’s a lot of crap like this. 

I don’t mind reading a lot of sex scenes – it’s good fun! But I do mind reading the words “passion”, “desire” and “reaching heights unknown” repeatedly. Why couldn’t Tejpal just describe sex that humans have? I mean, whatever, is what I have to say to that.

The ending will make you want to go, Meh. It is so forced, so dumb — it makes you wonder why Tejpal didn’t just stop writing. It would have made for a better conclusion.

Having said all that, I also have to say — I liked reading the book. Which is slightly different than I liked the book. 🙂

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. malupocha permalink
    June 7, 2010 5:09 pm

    nice review..i laughed especially about the sex reaching new height..and about Catherine wanting to get it on with mountainous darkies! ha ha

  2. June 26, 2010 10:27 am

    I didn’t like the book one bit. Oh and I didn’t like reading it either.

    I loved your dig at sex scenes and the standard list of cliches that go with them (‘passions flared’, ‘reached heights unknown’ and all that rot). It’s uncanny how every single author uses the same set of adjectives (a case of great minds thinking alike?)

    P.S: I arrived here entirely by accident but I am happy I did. Your blog just earned a new admirer.

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