Surface by Siddhartha Deb

Surface

Siddhartha Deb

Set in 1990's India, Amrit, a journalist, sets off on a journey through India to Burma searching for a woman in a photograph. Originally intended as a story for his paper, he learns so much more on his travels. I found this novel quite sad. It highlights corruption amongst so much poverty. However it was also entertaining. On this personal journey he meets people who all regale him with tales of their life - most often sad stories.

Extract

The bus climbed on to the tracks, it tilted awkwardly to the left, its rear wheel caught in a deep hole. The regular passengers chattered at this delay while the villagers sat without reacting. The driver stepped hard on the accelerator, the engine whined, and the wheel turned in its spot without traction. He tried again, this time choosing short little bursts, hoping to tease the wheel into some purchase before he attempted a lurch that would get us out. Someone laughed, saying how lucky we were the train wasn't running.
The tracks began vibrating, and everyone fell silent momentarily as they tried to figure out the source of the sound. It was a steady throbbing, rising gradually in intensity, and the passengers began exchanging uneasy glances.

Parallels
  • The Heart of India by Mark Tully
  • Malgudi Days by R K Narayan