TITLE: ANOTHER COUNTRY
AUTHOR: ANJALI JOSEPH
PUBLISHER: 4TH ESTATE
GENRE: GENERAL FICTION
COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK
Another Country is a library book. The author, Anjali Joseph is completely new to me. I picked up the novel because the blurb and praise on the back cover. I also wanted to read it because part of the novel is set in Paris, my favourite city in the world.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
Longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, this is a superb second novel from the author of the multiple-award winning ‘Saraswati Park’.
Paris, London, and Bombay: three cities form a backdrop to a journey through Leela’s twenties at the dawn of the new millennium, as she learns to negotiate the world, work, relationships and sex, and find some measure of authenticity.
Sharp, funny, and melancholy, Another Country brings a cool eye to friendship, love, and the idea of belonging in its movements through old and new worlds. As with her debut, Saraswati Park, Anjali Joseph’s beautiful, clear writing captures exactly both emotions and surroundings…
Leela, self-conscious, released into the world, walked down the boulevard de Sébastopol. A September afternoon. Chestnut trees allowed their leaves to fall; the warm air carried them to the pavement. She had never seen leaves fall so slowly.
I found Another Country to be a lacklustre and dull bag of wind. Joseph’s novel is tedious bordering on monotonous. The reviewers who heap praise on this piece of nonsense must either be friend and family of the author or paid to pretend the loved the novel or read something else entirely.
Part of the attraction of Another Country is the fact part of the novel is set in Paris. Paris is my favourite city in the world. The missus took me there for a week’s holiday for our 5th Anniversary in 2010. I fell in love with the city. I wanted to read about the city and fall in love again. I got not sense of place from Another Country. The novel is set in Paris, London and Bombay. I got no sense of either of these places or the different cultures. The setting was bland nothingness. Another Country could have been set Anywhere, The World. The locations were insipid and completely devoid of culture, feeling or flavour. In the Paris section Joseph would occasionally shoe-horn in the odd French phrase or reference. It was as if the author had suddenly thought oh, shit, this is meant to be set in Paris and shoved something in. The same can be said of London and Bombay.
As far as characterisation goes, Another Country had some of the dullest people I have ever had the displeasure to read about. The main character Leela didn’t have much wrong with her (apart from her stupid name which irritated the shit out of me after about three chapters) but there’s not much great about her either. She was insipid and dull. I couldn’t have cared less about her. I actually wished someone would run her down in the street and spray her dull blood everywhere. She had no sense of direction. She left Paris when a relationship went badly. She fled London when she got bored with her boyfriend. She fled Bombay and ran home to her parents in Puna when her Indian boyfriend started to get serious. She wandered aimlessly from place to place affecting nothing and no one. Whiny little bitch. The various people she meets as she drifts from place to place were equally boring. I couldn’t have picked any of them out of a line-up and didn’t care what happened to them. I also felt Joseph reveals far too late that Leela was born in Bombay which I thought was a little weird.
Another Country is just plain dull. I thought it would be exciting reading about someone living in different places and experiencing diverse cultures. Joseph fails to illicit a spark of interest. The plot is fairly simple to summarise. Leela wanders about some city picking fluff out of her bum crack until she starts to date someone. She gets bored and the relationship quickly dies. She runs off to another country and does the same thing again. And again. WTF? Who gives a shit? The whole thing almost put me in a boredom-induced coma. I couldn’t see the point of Another Country. What a waste of time, paper and money.
Up next: House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill. This is a library book.