Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Book of Gold Leaves and a small rant

I just finished reading Mirza Waheed's The Book of Gold Leaves (no points for a forgettable, pointless title).

I read The Collaborator earlier in the year and thought it was lovely. This was also. I spent four days in Srinagar one summer some years ago, and I wished it could have been longer. I also spent a couple of days in Kargil. Just enough to have developed a taste for Tabak Maas (ribs), not long enough to have made friends or gotten to know the place.

The odd review had white women, reading this as art of a book club, no doubt, complaining that there wasn't enough explanation of the context, or that the names were all too similar for them to keep track. I didn't think either of these were pertinent. 1. Use Google. 2. Literally every second white person is named Jack or John or Jason. Somehow the rest of the world is managing to keep up. Don't be so fucking lazy. As if anyone really uses that gigantic list of names at the beginning of War and Peace. You blunder through until you learn who is who, or you give up half way and miss out on one of the loveliest books written.

There were just enough references to food in The Book of Gold Leaves to keep me hooked. It was a very moving description of people trying to live their lives in a really complicated situation. I want to find more books set in Kashmir, and a decent history of the area. I hope I can go back some time, and travel more in the region. The Himalayas are really incredibly beautiful.