Thursday, August 14, 2008

More Angus book reviews

1. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon.

Chabon creates an absorbing counterfactual world with a hard-boiled detective story inside it. Informative and hilarious, big chunks of the book are as good as any fiction I've read. Chabon is a terrific writer. The ending does not do the rest of the book justice, but I flew through this book and really enjoyed it. It's along the lines of "Gun with Occasional Music" by the brilliant Jonathan Lethem and "Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by Murikami. Highly recommended.

2. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif.

This is an awesome debut novel. It tells the story of the death of Pakistani dictator Zia and offers several options for how his plane went down. It's by turns sarcastic, poignant, & informative, but always funny. Again the pages flew by for me. The side characters of Baby O and Uncle Starchy will stay with me for a long time. I saw someone describe it as a cross of "Catch-22" and "Libra", which is good, but I'd throw in "A Confederacy of Dunces" into the mix as well.

3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

An even better debut novel. This is a 270 page anti-India screed. It's lovely. It reminds me very much of an extended Thomas Bernhard rant, though there is way more action here than in a Bernhard book. Indian politics, corruption, caste system, and the heinousness of village life all get vigorously rubbed in your face. I read this all in a single afternoon here in Santa Fe. Just wouldn't stop and put it down to go outside. You gotta check this out.