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July 15, 2011 10:07 pm
Rehan Tabassum has grown up in Delhi, child of a female lawyer and stepson to a bombastic industrialist. Studying at a US university, the boy seems increasingly out of place in India – more so when he travels to Pakistan to meet his father, an influential businessman, for the first time.
For the follow-up to his widely praised The Temple-Goers, Taseer has written an odd, spiky novel. Told through a series of vignettes that span from the 1980s to the present, Noon is both a portrait of an Indian middle class struggling to define its place, and a study of a young man coming of age in his absent father’s shadow. On neither count is it a comfortable read, crawling with collective and individual self-loathing.
The fine and thoughtful writing owes a debt to VS Naipaul. What is lacking is some of the manic energy of Taseer’s contemporary Aravind Adiga: a relentlessly laconic tone threatens to leave the reader as semi-detached as the narrator.
Noon, by Aatish Taseer, Picador, RRP£12.99, 304 pages
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