Nominated by:

India International Centre Library, New Delhi

Publisher of nominated edition:

HarperCollins, India

Ghachar Ghochar

Vivek Shanbhag      

Translated from the original Kannada by Srinath Perur

2017 Longlist

‘It’s true what they say – it’s not we who control money, it’s the money that controls us. When there’s only a little, it behaves meekly; when it grows, it becomes brash and has its way with us.’ From a cramped, ant-infested house to a spacious bungalow, a family finds itself making a transition in many ways. The narrator, a sensitive young man, is numbed by the swirl around him. All he can do is flee every day to an old-world cafe, where he seeks solace from an oracular waiter. As members of the family realign their equations and desires, new strands are knotted, others come apart, and conflict brews dangerously in the background. Masterfully translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur, Ghachar Ghochar is a suspenseful, playful and ultimately menacing story about the shifting consequences of success.

About the Author

Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short-story collections, three novels and two plays, and edited two anthologies, one of which is in English.

Librarian’s Comments

This is a novel with a lightness of touch rarely found in our fiction. It is short, and the narrative is suffused with a gently irony, with an undercurrent of pathos and humour enlivening the events which are presented in a few delicate, deft strokes. But its subject is the fears and tension that keep the nerves of the vast petite bourgeoisie living in the city, which has become today’s Bengalru (India), in a state of ghachar ghochar (tied up in knots). The novel is a sensitive analysis of how our middle-class existence is defined by a single shruti: anxiety. Almost every incident in the life of this class is prompted by anxiety, shaped by it and ultimately ends up contributing to more of it. Characteristically, the family members, despite perennially clinging to one another, never make any attempt to discuss the source of the anxiety or ways of tackling the problem.

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