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John Grisham is
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
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?
Image Courtesy: Google
Another long story, so in the next post.