I just finished Londonstani by Gautam Malkani.
I won’t lie, the first fifty pages or so were really a struggle. I briefly considered abandoning the book altogether because the first part, “Paki” is tough to adjust to; not only with format but also vernacular. To be fair, this is somewhat my own fault, I didn’t realize there was a glossary in the back. Fail.
Needlesstosay, I am so glad I persevered. Especially considering the next two sections of the book were increasingly “easier” to read in both respects. Two things about this book make it brilliant,
1. The lack of foreshadowing. Let me explain. Malkani has a way of setting you so into the character’s point of view that you are really experiencing the story and are equally taken aback as the events unfold but not in a cheap cop out sort of way where the author just has no foundation for the plot line unfolding as it does. Instead, afterward, it makes sense, perhaps you and Jas should have both seen this coming, but that’s just not how you thought things would go. Such is life. It’s a simple enough quality in a book, but it was just remarkably well done.
2. Malkani flips the script a few times in the book, where you realize that you have been assuming something to be true without that ever being stated as true, and then Malkani let’s you know… you’re wrong. The first few times I was impressed, but the ending! Incidences throughout the book that you never questioned to not make sense in the first place suddenly make so much more sense, and with such clarity. His knowledge of his reader and the assumptions we would make without any guidance is unnerving. The last two pages change your perspective, interpretation, and the whole point of the book entirely.