The Better Man

It was my uncle who thrust this book into my hand when I visited him a few weeks back.  "Read this... You will be transported back to our native place.  It is so realistic".  He meant - Kerala - where we both hail.

The book was The Better Man by Anita Nair.  That I had a senior in College by the same name as the author was another incentive to read the book.

The Better Man is set in a village (fictitious, I presume), Kaikurussi.  The author was born in Mundakottakurissi and perhaps wanted a name easier on the tongue.  The novel talks about the life and times of a bunch of character - notably, Mukundan, a failure in life, who lives in the shadow of his father and who is forced to return to his ancestral home to lead his retired life and Bhasi, a painter by profession, but a healer by practice, who finds Mukundan a curious case for cure.

Amidst the lush greenery and the regular rains, the story moves on. Mukundan craves for recognition like his father Achuthan Nair and gets his chance providentially.  But does he want it, when it affects his mentor and savior Bhasi?

Like a typical Indian village story, the novel has its share of bigamy, illicit relationships and similar innuendos.  There are some incidents illustrating the corruption that prevails even in villages.

While the book is easy to read, it is kind of slow in the middle.  One is not sure where the book is headed.  Also, characters get introduced at various points of time and you are not sure what role they get to play in the larger scheme of things.

The climax when it comes is quite abrupt and ties up all the loose ends.

A good Mallu book to read on a train ride or a quiet weekend.