“Indogene: Stories of Indians Across the Globe” by Sriram Devatha

This is a book of stories that revolve around an interesting cultural phenomenon: the spread of people from India to…pretty much everywhere.

It starts in Egypt and covers America, Korea, Suriname and more, expanding as far in time as the 1820s in Singapore and the 1970s in Uganda.

This book provides an interesting experience for the average reader for two reasons. First, because of the different points of view, some of which perhaps we have never considered.  This is especially true of “Riches to Rags,” which shows the developing unquiet in the soul of an Indo-Ugandan businessman as the promised reforms of Idi Amin deteriorate into despotism.

The second point of interest is the reading experience itself. This work is from a culture where the beginning-middle-end flow of a story is not sacrosanct. The awareness of the past and its effect on the present and future sometimes creates a more fragmented timeline. In most stories, this isn’t a serious problem, especially when we understand why it is happening. In “Suriname’s Surname,” cyclical time is a topic of discussion that affects the outcome of the tale. However, there is one story, aptly enough entitled “Hindsight,” that pushes this concept past the point of comfort for the reader. This narrative jumps back and forth in subject and time, culminating in a jumble of points of view and timelines that is very hard to understand.

However, each story in the book has its own charm, even “Love’s the Idea,” a treatise that brings the idea of love down to unromantic academic study, but finishes with a surprise ending that changes everything.

A book for people interested in a fresh view of the world and the reading experience.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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