My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was provided with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter is a strongly emotional tale centered around the post-Independence cultural shuffling and the emigration frenzy of India and Indians, told through the lives of the Kulkani family. When the Kulkani family loses one of the brothers in a terminal degenerative spinular muscular dystrophy, Arjun Kulkani leaves India for England in the second half of the 20th century, his mind full of anticipatory fascination for what he believes to be an ideal life - a life amidst the green pastures and solemn castles of England. The seemingly dull and grey life in London gives him a jolt and he finds the monotony repulsive. To add to his internal crisis, he finds that he is losing touch - literally and figuratively. He begins to experience the initial signs of the deadly disease that shook his family by taking his brother away. Having conformed to what he believes is the stereotyped image of an Indian family man, trying to discipline his wife and children through more harsher means than just words, he finds them turning more and more indiffierent and aloof after having set foot in England. As he faces as existential crisis and tries to reach out to his wife and children for an emotional connect, he finds them cold. As the disease progresses, his wife tends to him dutifully, nevertheless stays emotionally distant from him, having lost faith in any form of mental togetherness, thanks to her husband's cruel ways back in their homeland. There are things that happen, as they happen to any family over generations - affairs, infatuations, heart breaks, marriages, break-ups, a grand child.
This isn't a conclusive book - not something where someone can expect the book to have a beginning and an end... It's more of a glance through a scope lens at the lives of a household, across years. And I absolutely loved the book for the very reason! While Hunter shows us that life revolves around a lot of greys, that while one takes things for granted, they also repent about it later, I applaud the fact that Hunter hasn't really justified any of Arjun's flaws. His misplaced attraction for a sister-in-law, the detachment from his family, his bewilderment at the conflict between the England he imagined and what he sees, are all handled very well, not condoning him for the wrong things. Sunila's character, although not the centre point, is very powerful and plays the perfect foil for Arjun's emotional turbulence.
Hunter's writing is enticing, almost like walking through a painting. The narrative is breathtaking and poetic. The final scene talking of Arjun relating with his grand-child is completely heart-wrenching. This is a brilliant piece of an emotional drama and I highly recommend it to everyone!
My rating for this book: 5 stars
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