Thursday 19 January 2012

Racists by Kunal Basu

I cheated. I am supposed to be 'now reading' Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. But I found it a little cumbersome and I wanted to read something which was effortless. When I saw the plot summary for this book, I knew I had to read it to find out how will he end it?

 Racists by Kunal Basu is the fictitious tale of an experiment being  conducted in the 1850s to determine once and for all the answer to the controversial race question. Is it nature or conditioning from environment, that delegates one race to slavery and elevates another to dominance. The experiment- two children ,a black boy and a white girl (yes I thought he was going to introduce the gender question also but he doesn't) are going to be kept on a deserted  island to grow up wild and free, free to follow their free will without any contact with the civilized world. Accompanying them would be a mute nurse,  who must not influence the children in any way. Her job is to just feed them and keep them alive. Each of the two scientists behind this experiment, believes in his own theory and knows which one will emerge superior. Both are just waiting for their 'samples' to prove them correct. Now the plot introduction was brilliant, and the book was too , in the beginning. Sadly, the rest of the book didn't live up to expectations. The main story line started diverging halfway- a professor's struggle to maintain financial backing for this experiment, the professor's assistant's love for the mute nurse, the professors deteriorating relationship with his wife. The biggest let down was the ending. I was very curious to know how will the author end it in an impartial yet credible way. Or will he take a side? But there was no conclusion to the experiment.

 The writing style is fine, nothing extraordinary. Pity, such an interesting concept count lead to more. I am not sure if I would like to pick up something more by the author. Maybe if I know before hand that it wont disappoint me, I might.

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