Friday, April 03, 2009

On "Solo" by Rana Dasgupta

Alok Rai on Rana Dasgupta's latest novel, Solo:

The sense of a lost wholeness haunts modernism. And what is distinctive about postmodernism is a loss of that sense of loss – the loss of a framework against which the experience of loss might even be registered. This comes either in light, celebratory flavours – polymorphous perversities, the unbearable lightness of being. Or, sometimes, in darker, bewildered forms – haunted by a sense of loss, but deprived also of the freedom to mourn – the tragedy that cannot speak its name.

The odd combination of talent and pointlessness that characterises Solo seems like some kind of potlatch – the bizarre custom identified by anthropologists wherein status is demonstrated by the magnitude of what one can squander and waste. At one level, Solo is an exploration of "failure", and contains the suggestion that it takes a lot of failure to make some signal success. It is an interesting thought, and also a curious advertisement for Dasgupta’s next book.


I like it when Rai mentions about potlatch: the custom wherein status is demonstrated by the magnitude of what one can squander and waste. Reminds me of the excesses of the Wall Street, and of modern lifestyle itself. The more you waste, the more you squander, the more successful you are and vice versa. If that is Dasgupta's key theme in this novel then I must say it is extremely insightful and relevant to our times.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i have solo on table to be read after i finish what i am reading. that bit abt potlatch is very true and i have thinking abt it a lot these. also abt loss as the dominant emotion of our age. i wrote a piece with that basic premise, exploring art in this age of internet. its there on my blog :
i like the way and what you write abt. i think i will start following this blog. hope you don't mind.