Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

Vincent is a waiter at Coffee House.

– Opening sentence

Ghachar Ghochar is only  a short story – I read in all in one sitting – but one with a big impact; something which I think only the very talented can achieve in their writing.

I admit, I was initially drawn in by the striking cover design – but also by the opportunity to expand on my own personal range of  genres.

Ghachar Ghochar is the first of  Shanbhag’s works to be translated into English, and has been praised as being a masterclass of crafting.

I can see why.

Set in Bangalore, the story is told from the perspective of one unnamed character, referred to only once by his childhood nickname ‘Krukane’. In some ways it reminded me of Stoner: A Novel as both are stories about men who consider themselves to be thoroughly ordinary and boring. Both stories describe the lives of these men which appear unextraordinary at first, yet are more significant than first inspection.

Shanbhag does an excellent job of writing a completely ordinary sentence which drips with meaning and implication. It’s not about what is written down, but what is hidden between the lines that makes Ghachar Ghochar so good.

The main theme of this book is wealth and how much it can change a person.

We all like to think that we would remain the same if we came into a large sum of money, and yet we have all experienced how money can change relationships – how many of you have seen it with friends or family members?

Family and relationships are a second strong theme in Ghachar Ghochar. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. Just how far is a family prepared to go for the sake the family? Which relationships mean more? Both these questions are answered in Ghachar Chochar  – and I can’t work out whether they are predictable or not.

Slightly dark and slightly unsettling – yet in other ways utterly uneventful – this is a short story that I think anyone would read and appreciate for the clever storytelling.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

The words rush into my head of their own accord: ghachar ghochar.

– Final sentence

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