x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Sly Company of People Who Care: no rest in Guyana for Mumbai-weary

With his tale about an Indian writer who escapes to Guyana, the cricket writer Rahul Bhattacharya offers a refreshing take on a little-known setting.

The Sly Company of People Who Care, Rahul Bhattacharya, Picador, Dh78
The Sly Company of People Who Care, Rahul Bhattacharya, Picador, Dh78

Rahul Bhattacharya, author of the acclaimed cricket book Pundits From Pakistan, breaks away from his favourite subject in his debut novel. While there is mention of the popular sport, Sly Company is more a reflection on escape. Specifically, to multi-ethnic, poverty-stricken Guyana, a land crippled by the "politricks" of its leaders.

Like Bhattacharya, our nameless protagonist is an Indian writer, one who's had enough of the hectic rush of life in his hometown Mumbai. Young and not quite so idealistic, he readily immerses himself in life in the "poorest country in the continent". This includes stumbling his merry way through local diamond-panning, messy Indian weddings and love at first sight. Throughout his eventful journey, he still finds time to wax philosophical on his surroundings as well as on the source of his own hidden frustrations.

Interspersing poetic prose with the grittiness afforded by the narrator's experiences, Bhattacharya certainly delivers on his maiden outing in fiction. Sly Company is a refreshing take on a little-known setting and manages to balance the weight of its meditations with a page-turning appeal characteristic of a good summer read.