If it ain’t a riot,what it be,Man?


Book : The Mystic Masseur
Author: VS Naipaul
Publisher : Picador
Genere: Humour

I can’t remember chuckling so much reading any book in the last few months.. Mystic Masseur by V.S Naipaul is one of the finest comic capers i have laid my eyes upon.It is the story of the rise of Ganesh Ramasumair,a failed Primary school teacher and struggling masseur to a writer ,mystic and finally a MBE(Member of executive council) in Trinidad.The book is written in the strangely hilarious English spoken by the Trinidadian people and is set in Colonial Trinidad. Sample some of the rioutous sentence constructions..

“The Pundit we looking for.”
“I does read.”
“It have man I want to see in oilfields.”

Delightful, no?.

Add to that a motley crew of characters like Ramlogan,Ganesh’s father-in-law ,who schemes to get him married off to his daughter and later tries to profit from Ganesh’s meteoric rise; The great belcher,the elderly quintessential match-making relative who belches and burps like there was no tomorrow; Leela,Ganesh’s wife who punctuates after every word;Suruj Mooma and Suruj Poopa,who motivate Ganesh to write his book and several others.

The first 100 odd pages were so funny that when i read that this was Naipaul’s first book,i was in awe. He wrote this book when he was 25!!.However,I had to strain myself to finish the next 100 odd pages as the breezy,wry wit that was so abundant in the first 100 pages disappears without a trace.Despite the narrative being slightly disjointed after Ganesh becomes a Mystic,the book is hilarious.People who love self-deprecating wit,will love Mystic Masseur.The book is a glorious caricature of the people,the sounds and the sights of Trinidad.

Naipaul won the Nobel prize for Literature in 2001 and has scores of other prestigious awards in his kitty.For people who are starting out on Naipaul’s books,Mystic masseur is highly recommended.As for me,i loved the book,despite the sagging,lack-lusture narrative after those 100 pages and am excited to start his third book,Miguel street.

My rating : 3.5/5.

9 thoughts on “If it ain’t a riot,what it be,Man?

  1. B, I've tried readin Naipauls's Magic seeds and some other bk, and given up on the author. But this was few yrs bk. Maybe I'll try reading him again. The thing is, I hv this huge mental block, which fails to move a bit wrt few authors.

    ps : the current font is bit hurting the eye to read.

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  2. 2 years back I started readng the highly rated “A House for Mr Biswas”, am yet to finish it!! 😀 😀

    Too slow and too detailed that book is! I might re start it, may be!!!

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  3. Vimmuu… ada paaviiiiEEE!!

    BB.. have changed the font now .. dont know why the font changed .. nyways i remember reading half life and hating the pace.. this one is more like PG Wodehouse writing .. but more wry humour

    Pal .. thanx.. you should !!! It was a fun read !!

    Smita.. Mr Biswas is a highly critically acclaimed book.. this one is a lot of fun and not very serious !!

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  4. I didn't associate humour with VS Naipaul to be honest. I always thought he would be the more serious type. But reading your review makes me want to go and pick the mystic masseur of the shelf right away. So… it better be good. For your sake! 🙂

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  5. Ajai.. its not the slapstick kind of humor .. its the more dry,dark wit …ideally it just has to be literary fiction .. but this was a comic caper ,hence i put it as humor.. Oooohhh!! you scared me with that ultimatum 😉

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