am 19. Juni 2014
A very poor catholic family from Kerala living in a Hindu neighbourhood in Chennai :
Ousep (in his youth a rising star in journalism, gone to seed, turned alcoholic but still „too proud to live within his means“) and Mariamma (economics postgraduate, unbalanced by childhood trauma, forever nursing old grievances, feeling caged-in and hoping for her husband’s demise) are parents to shy, insecure 12-year-old Thoma (hopelessly in love with an older girl) who has always lived in the shadow of his brilliant cartoon-artist brother, Unni, who threw himself head-first from their terrace at the age of 17.
Ousep, never a loving father who knew little about his teenage son, is obsessed with finding a clue to why Unni did what he did. Mariamma is heartbroken and can’t find peace of mind because her adored son did not leave her a farewell note. Thoma is desperately trying to be like his brother and take his place in his mother’s affections.
Three years after the suicide Ousep – believing that he has found a new clue – again starts hounding Unni’s friends, classmates, neighbours, teachers, fellow-cartoonists and anybody who was ever connected to his dead son but nobody can or will tell him any more than he already knows.
This search for answers goes on for most of the book, interspersed with bouts of drunkenness, furious marital disputes, neurotic behaviour, pretend suicides etc. etc. Only towards the end of the novel does it pick up speed, things start happening, people start talking and we finally get a glimpse of the complex person Unni's father never imagined.
While enjoying the parts of the book given to philosophical musings on truth and delusion, all in all I found it tedious, most of the characters unlikeable and the ending unsatisfactory.