Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Review: The Mystic Masseur by V.S. Naipaul

In The Mystic Masseur V.S. Naipaul tells the story of Ganesh, the son of an Indian immigrant to Trinidad and a character with a strong disinclination to work. The story follows Ganesh's rise to fame which has been stumbled upon due to fate providing a steadying hand which counteracts many of Ganesh's questionable life decisions.

The characters are the highlight of this book with the plot taking a back stage, although the reader will quickly become enthralled as to how Ganesh has become a well-known figure in Trinidad. As well as the lazy but loveable Ganesh are a host of similarly amusing characters; Leela with the bizarre habit of punctuating every word, the excitable Ramlogan and the sage-like Aunt Belcher are the stars along with ganesh but a whole procession of weirdos pop up in this book which ends with ganesh's political career.

There is something about the style of writing in this book that makes the reader believe in the reality of the characters and the tale of Ganesh's fame seems like something that could happen to almost anyone. This was Naipaul's first novel and remains one of his most famous: deservedly so.

The Mystic Masseur is recommended to readers who like quirky tales and to those who wish to progress from popular fiction onto something more complex without taxing the brain too much. This is an amusing story with some interesting characters and it is not too long, something which many similar novels are guilty of.

Score: 8/10

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