Tag Archives: racism

Remebering Babylon – David Malouf

Beautiful book cover

Beautiful book cover

 Malouf is an acclaimed Australian author. Remembering Babylon was published in 1993 but is set in colonial Australia. Being published only 18 years ago hardly makes it vintage, as the publisher claims, but that’s neither here nor there. It deals with the common topic of prejudice and for me comes somewhere between the subtle, intricate analysis of Forster’s A Passage to India, and the brash, dictation of Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Consequently I’d give it half marks.

What I enjoyed about Remembering Babylon were the diverse characters, and the look into pioneering life.

What I didn’t like about this book was the seemingly irrelevant passages, the limited insight, and the unnecessary use of profanity. On the first point, there were a few short incidences that were, while beautifully written, seemingly irrelevant to the central theme. Malouf told single incidents from several perspectives, but he didn’t go deep enough into any one for my enjoyment. As for the profanity, I cannot stand this in written prose. Malouf could have just as easily conveyed the hardened, uncouth characters without it. Furthermore, he uses unpleasant imagery for things which are not unpleasant. For example, instead of saying Mr Frazer made his lips into the shape of an arsehole, he could simply has said Mr Frazer pursed his lips.

This is not a book for those who need a climatic ending, but Malouf poetically captures the nuances of Australian flora and conditions so it is more the journey than the destination.

What I especially loved about this re-release was the beautiful cover, which resembles Delftware, with it’s stark white cover and royal blue line-art. It was 80% of the reason I bought it.

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A Passage to India

 Because I found this book flawless, I didn’t know where to being when providing my review. Remembering back to school book reports for inspiration, I began…

I read A Passage to India, by EM Forster. It is a fiction book, based in India during the early British Empire…

At this point I became nauseated about how children are taught to think about a book so I deviated…

 

E M Forster

 

The main themes of this book are around prejudices and bigotry. However, A Passage to India doesn’t say “Look how bad these racist people are”. Instead it exposes deeper, instinctual feelings, and investigates the causes of such intolerance. I feel To Kill a Mockingbird is superficial, underdeveloped and obvious, compared to this masterpiece.

A Passage to India reveals that there are no true victims, because each societal group is both the perpetrator and the receiver of discrimination, and narrow-mindedness. Everyone, save perhaps the Dalai Lama, stereotypes.

In case you have not noticed from my other reviews, I like books that ask questions and pose problems, not ones which prescribe answers. Forster allows the reader to develop their own view of the characters.

The plot is fantastic. When I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was surprised. Forster knows just when to provide long, vivid descriptions, dialogue, action, and when to change the course of the story.

British India

His language is beautiful, but not too fanciful. It is intelligent, but not patronising, and doesn’t have the average reader reaching for the dictionary every few pages. He uses a set of metaphors, idioms and linguistic tools, which are not common in today’s language, but which are easily relatable and provide for interesting reading.

I could go on and on but I dislike blogs which require scrolling, and don’t wish to be a hypocrite. Happy reading!

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