«The alchemy of desire» is a surprising book. Its author, Tarun J. Tejpal, is know in India as an essay writer and an investigative journalist participating fully to the political life of his country. But his first novel is a total success.
I had heard an interview of the author in les Matins de France Culture (on France Culture, the French culture-oriented public radio) where the journalists seemed to be simply in love with the book. So, I bought it. And I was not disappointed. A very vivid writing with a permanent profusion in front of the reader’s eye and her other senses. At the end of a love story that seemed to be promissed to be eternal, the hero not only goes through his life again, but also crosses the recent history of India. Far from being a mere exotic journey to India, it is a vision for the inside bringing bright flowers of unqiue characters.
A short quote (in French until I find the original text):
Il n’y a pas de doute : dans le sexe, les hommes stationnent au camp de base. Ils peuvent jouir des nombreux plaisirs de la moyenne montagne, mais les sommets vertigineux leur sont refusés. Il leur manque le souffle, l’imagination, l’abandon, l’anatomie. Leur tâche consiste à préparer les vrais grimpeurs : les femmes, artistes des hautes cimes. Ces chamois capables de sauter d’arête en arête, de sommet en sommet, jusqu’à la vastitude de l’éternité.
Depuis des millénaires, les hommes luttent contre cette certitude. Ils connaissent l’existence des altitudes inaccessibles. Il n’est pas facile d’être inférieur.
Il n’est pas facile pour un sanglier de vivre parmi les gazelles.
Flesh, blood and desire are quite present in this writing, but they do not cede to the quality of writing and are mostly a guide of characters through the humanity. All senses are activated by the words on the paper.
Additional note: The ornythologist in the reader will appreciate how much knowledgeable Tarun J. Tejpal is when it comes to birds. They are everywhere in the book. Bulbuls, a coucal, owls or various passerines are also real secondary characters of this work.