Anita Desai

The Spice of Life

Bengal to Birmingham

By Faizur Rasul

Andre Deutsch 1967 order from our bookshop

This surprising and delightful autobiography, discovered on a dusty shelf in the library, would have been extraordinary enough for its lively, robust and concrete prose (all qualities rarely found in English written by Indian novelists) but becomes even more so when one discovers it is the work of a Bengali Muslim who left school – the Victoria Memorial High School at Memari, a country town a few miles away from his village in the Burdwan district – at the age of fourteen to start earning his living. He did this in such an indiscriminate variety of ways as to make for a positively Rabelaisian recital which proved, in my case, such irresistible reading that on finishing it I wished for a second volume. Mr Rasul has not only the gift for living fully, an attractive enough feature , but also an unusual gift for infusing his prose with this quality.

Sara Stewart


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