Friday, April 12, 2013

John Grisham in India?

John Grisham
Image Courtesy: Google
John Grisham is America’s beloved writer. He writes legal thrillers that until a certain period in my life I thought boring.

In Kerala, the southern most state in India, the land that buckles the Western Ghats with the Arabian Sea, the place where people speak a language called Malayalam and the culture where there are more people aspiring to learn English than the total population of United Kingdom, there will be at least one Grisham thriller in every library and reading room.

A quick note on the difference between libraries and reading rooms—well, libraries generally function under a trust or institution. Reading rooms are established by political parties. They will have a fairly good library inside the building, not just newspapers and magazines. But the books the reading rooms keep will always be influenced and inspired and incubated under the heat and sweat of the political propaganda the respective party deals with.   

Left or right, red or white, Grisham can surely be found in the most worn and yellowish of his forms in any of those shelves. There are those reading rooms and libraries that only serve the purpose of offering research books or even limited to newspapers and monthlies. They don’t, of course, keep Grisham, for Grisham is a writer of ‘fiction’.

When I was a little boy, I remember, a visit to one of my cousin’s. It was such a rural countryside that no one even preferred to mention the name of when asked. I did not like the visit either. During those days, they did not even have electricity there. Imagine the torture of spending the whole day there, when the adults discussed their gossips and the only children remaining in the house were my little sister and I. the only way I found to kill some time was to explore the house. Though small, the house was bright with its glass windows. So I searched out each room. My mission was to find out something readable. I loved reading. I realized quite soon that they did not keep comic books there. The three cousins I had in that house were already grownups, I resentfully realized. And comic books were kids’ stuff. How could there be comics when there were no kids? It was late 1990s. My cousins were perhaps in their late teens and early twenties—they were three, by the way. In the room of the youngest cousin, on a small table was a book. It was thick, worn out from repeated handling, with dog ears in the corners. The cousin opined that as what I was—a kid—I may not enjoy the book, so the best thing to do was to leave it where it was. He also said that he had borrowed it from the reading room in the junction, ten minutes’ walk from home.

That was my first encounter with John Grisham, popularly known as the master of the legal thriller. If my memory is not deceiving me, the book was titled; The Firm. The book I found there was a translation in Malayalam language. That tells us about the grip of Grisham. Most of his works deal with America, her cities, suburbs, countryside, people, culture and problems. Then what is it in him that makes such an impact upon the people in India, in Kerala?

John Grisham
Image Courtesy: Google
I went through the first few pages, realized that it was not my type of book because there were no kings or emperors or wizards or fairies, but humans and courtrooms. So I left it there. (Note that Theodore Boone wasn’t written then. It came much later; after the first decade of 21st century. And it has no kings or fairies, either.) I did not touch another Grisham book until much later. And when I did finally, it changed the way I looked at the world and especially at John Grisham. But now, I was no longer that little kid, was I?

Another long story, so in the next post.


sarath said...

Hey, this write up is interesting, though the title misleading. I enjoyed, ha ha!

Anu Lal said...

I put a question mark there, for people like you, my dear friend LOL ;)

Arun Kumar said...

The title was intriguing and whole post was well written. I was also at first skeptical about reading Grisham. But after reading "A Time to Kill" I have bought or borrowed his books. Even his semi-autobiographical novel "A Painted House", which was about migrant workers, was excellent. I heard of the term "legal thrillers" only through Grisham.

Unknown said...

Kutta, are you talking about Perappan's house .... ?

Man you still remember all these things....

I cannot imagine you are grown this much :)

I am really proud of you .... :) but somehow I cannot change the way I think about you .... you are still my little brother :)

Anu Lal said...

Dear Arun,
Thank you so much for stopping by. I am new to Grisham's universe. Thank you so much for sharing such a useful info. I will sure check "A Painted House" next. I just started reading "The Racketeer", his latest thriller. I will review it here soon. "The Confession" is what brought me to Grisham, which I finished reading just today. Such a fine read! I will review it in my blog soon. Planning a post on the story how The Confession is important for the next post. I expect you to stop by and grace my article with your invaluable comments.
Have a good day!

Anu Lal said...

@ Dileep James,

Dear bro, I am so honoured that you found time for my blog. You are always an enthusiast towards my blogging attempts. Special thanks for that!
And, you got it right about the house. It is, indeed! Do you remember? ;)

I have the same "problem" too, for me you are my big brother. You are ahead of me and I look up at you as a role model, not just as a brother. Though life has taken us physically away into different places, we still feel the relationship in our heart. It is a never-changing truth!

About being proud of me, I do not understand why. I am still, a lousy struggler who struggles with life in all its aspects and spends his time alone with books most of the time or in front of his computer, reading or hitting away the keys in a mad rush to tell a story.

I am proud of you, brother and for all the right reasons, for whatever you achieved with your life.

Love to you and family.