Book Review #9: Slow

Name: Slow
Author: Digonto Bordoloi

No. of Pages: 302

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: BecomeShakespeare.Com

Price: Rs. 250/-

Published in: 2014

The blurb of the book says: 

Baba is born in a remote corner of India, sheltered from modern development. His father's job takes the family from town to town, and with each move, Baba comes to terms with his new life.He spends an idyllic childhood doing things at his own pace, bending the rules whenever he can.... And then the unthinkable happens. Slow is the story of a boy who preferred to walk, when the world around him was gearing up to run.

FourWord Clarion Reviews (USA) "Slow is a luxuriously sensual and provocative journey through life and death that examines the beauty and irony in the world around us."

Kirkus Review (USA) "Bordoloi's debut novel offers a picturesque journey through contemporary India with a splash of Mad Men style."

About the author:
Digonta Bordoloi was born and raised in the North East of India. In his early twenties, career dreams took him first to Delhi, then to Mumbai where he spent over a decade in high-level advertising. Escaping the corporate world, he landed up in Africa. After a year in Uganda, Digonta spent some time in Swaziland and Zanzibar, Tanzania, where he started writing this, his first novel. Digonta lives with his wife Susie. They call Australia and India home.

Cover: The cover of the book shows the back of a young boy looking towards two destinations, a fast-paced city and the slow-paced hills. 

Writing: The author writes in a lucid manner yet entertaining manner. I wished the author gave the english translation of all the Assamese words he used. Then I found a slight inconsistency as to how Probin mama (maternal uncle) in page 96 became Probin khura (paternal uncle) in page 102.

The story starts in northeast India. So I could totally relate to the locations and characters. The story starts with the birth of the protagonist Baba. From the time of his birth Baba is a slow child. He takes his own sweet time eat, in learning to walk, speak and gain pace with the world. The author writes about Baba's life as a young child growing into a gawky teenager as he moves from town to town as his father gets transferred. The book is a delight till exactly the midway. Then author goes haywire with the story. 

At precisely halfway of the book, the author kills Baba at the young age of fifteen. Sorry for revealing this but it is kind of important. And then takes his soul nineteen years fast forward, where Baba (in soul form)  travels from place to place to see what's going on in his family's lives and his childhood friend's life. I did not understand at all where the author wanted to take the story. 

The cover made me think that the protagonist grows up slow-pacedly and would get thrown into a fast life. And how he deals with it. And the story did go in that direction till Baba's death. So now it seems the cover is portraying the traveling of Baba's soul to and fro between his family's residence in Assam and his friend's place in Mumbai. From being slow in life, his soul can travel fast from place to place.

As much as I enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half was a torture. It is a downhill after Baba's death.  Towards the end, I skipped several pages to get to the end. 

I give the "Slow" 2.5 stars on a scale of 5.  

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