Review

The Romantics: A Novel

by

"The
world constantly renews itself, and when you look at it that way,
regret and nostalgia seem equally futile. The past does live on, in
people as well as cities. I have only to look back on that winter
in Benares to realize how hard it is to let go of it."
In
1998, an unknown writer published his first article in The New York
Review of Books. The piece was a hit and caught the eye of
publishers around the world. The writer, Pankaj Mishra, sold the
rights to his first novel in over ten countries. Just published,
Mishra's THE ROMANTICS is an elegant and erotic tale of the
constant pull of the worlds of both the West and the
East.
His
prose is spare and elegiac, and his characters are as vibrant and
electric as the lands they inhabit. THE ROMANTICS concerns a
Brahman student's first great desire --- a French woman with whom
he spends time at what Mishra calls "the end of the known world."
Heady and intimate, the affair is, however, short-lived. Upon his
return to his books and an elderly British neighbor, Samar ponders
the mysterious rifts between his Eastern upbringing (arranged
marriages is a hot topic) and his fascination with the West (where
love is more illicit and excitingly experienced). Later on, he
returns to his homeland in Benares and is haunted by the images
that come rushing back to him. Revisiting his old haunts is a
difficult yet "calming" time for the narrator.
With
a good luck story like that of Mishra's discovery, one would not
expect a book like THE ROMANTICS to be as profound as it is. His
efficient use of language, his perfect capturing of the first
experiences of love, his infatuations with specific parts of the
Western culture, as well as the exotic backdrops of India make THE
ROMANTICS a great read. Mishra has rendered love in all its pain
and wonder completely and complexly. THE ROMANTICS is romantic but
smart and will be sure to win this new novelist many, many
fans.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 23, 2011

The Romantics: A Novel
by

  • Publication Date: February 20, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • ISBN-10: 0385720807
  • ISBN-13: 9780385720809