Jamba - The Joint Family by Sriram Balasubramanian
In an age when families are becoming more nuclear, Karthik's family was an aberration: It was a large joint family with its own complications, contradictions and commonalities. Two love stories and a wedding get intertwined within the family at the same time. One of them could make or break the joint family, will the family survive? Will the love story succeed? Will the younger generation respond to the needs of the family? How will the older generation respond to the changing perceptions of the younger generation? Will the family eco-system survive?
In an India swamped by globalization, this racy and humorous story tries to dissect the generational changes in Indian society and how the Indian society is responding to the changes.
Sriram Balasubramanian is a Writer who has contributed extensively to international publications such as NYT, WSJ, Foreign Policy, Forbes India, and The Hindu among others. He has interacted with a variety of global business leaders and policy makers in his experience as a journalist and writer. His main area of focus has been on human development, education and socio-economic issues with a global context.
Besides this, he has a Master’s Degree from University of Southern California and is pursuing another degree at Columbia University in NYC. He is also authoring another book on the World Chess championship which was held recently.
He is very passionate about India, its cultural ethos & socio-economic evolution. He can be reached at @Sriram316 or http://www.facebook.com/jambathenovel20 or http://www.srirambala.in
My review(oh, I rather like this new typeface!):
This is a book narrated by a young Madras Indian man and the energy of the narration fits that perfectly, even to the sometimes curious pacing, slow one minute, quick the next. His character is similar, with odd moodswings, flare-ups and laughter, while every now and then he stops to explain something from the past. The story is very much about one extended Tamil Brahmin (TamBram) Hindu family and how the narrator fits into it, resenting it and loving it at the same time. His beloved but disabled cousin is about to be married, which is cause for various relations to return from America and show off their American lifestyles to those who have chosen to stay behind: some envy them, others defend the land of their birth, but no one is completely straightforward in their attitudes. Amongst those returning is another cousin, one with whom he has never got on, who is now secretly dating a Christian – a situation which might throw the whole family into chaos and jeopardise the wedding. It’s a love song to Madras and Indian tradition, and indeed to his grandmother (Jamba patti of the title) who seems to embody both for him. In fact, the descriptions of his grandmother and his relationship with her are positively hyperbolic: in one instance he writes ‘As usual, my grandmother showcased her her hospitality by offering her a cup of coffee.’ Often the use of language is strange and repetitious even for Indian English, a good edit of extraneous detail would help, and there are many instances where the author would have benefitted from the old advice to show, not tell. But it is full to the brim of innocent energy and enthusiasm, and it’s an enjoyable, fast-paced read!
Now I have to attach those odd bits at the end that always defeat me - let's hope I get them right this time!
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