Friday, May 12, 2006

'Slippery When Wet' and 'The Kite Flyer'


It's touching to hear from readers about one's own books - especially when the response is glowing. Here's a comment on my new novel from an American reader. He traced the book himself on Amazon (it's not on sale there - I suppose in the hope that a US edition goes on sale some day) and I bless him for writing the following:

"I read Slippery When Wet. Truly an eye-opener -- what good use you have made of your travels, Martin, in the best English tradition. You have a really wonderful ability to enter into different centers of consciousness, which is what the novel form is all about and without which it cannot exist -- as much in Joyce as in George Eliot. I like Maggie very much, but I love Sepen; he is really a wonderful creation. I knew you were a good writer, but the specificity and vividness of the imaginative creation here surpasses anything else of yours I have read. I have no idea what Bangladesh or any person living there is like, but you convince me entirely. Well done, indeed.

"Sepen for me is the most convincing embodiment of the otherness of the third world, seen from the outside by Maggie and then from the inside by your narrative and dialogue. It is like the Proustian intuition of a radical gap between the world as imagined and as experienced.

"There is a novel very popular in America now, perhaps in Britain too, that also evokes an Asian place with great vividness -- The Kite Runner, by an American physician who was born and grew up in Afghanistan. It focuses quite a bit on the ethnic hatreds of the country, and very oddly, I learn from it that upper class Pashtuns of Kabul speak Farsi, and do not even understand Pashtu. Such pedantry aside, it is a powerful book. it gives a very vivid picture of Kabul before the troubles. But since it is written by an Afghani, even though he is Americanized, it contains nothing of the effect of sparking across the cultural gap, which is the strength of your book."

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