Book Review - The Way Things Were

by Aatish Tazeer (Picador) ISBN 9781447272724 

At thirty-something, Skanda is living and studying Sanskrit in New York City when his father dies. Skanda accompanies his father’s body to Kalasuryaketu, a remote Indian village where his father will be laid to rest. This is his father’s birthplace and the backdrop to his parents’ passionate but ill-fated relationship that ended when Skanda was ten. 

Reconnecting with family and friends in India takes Skanda on a journey of discovery that re-shapes his outlook on life. It deepens his understanding of these people, of suffering and survival and of his father’s teachings. He owes his own abiding love for Sanskrit with its golden thread of ancient Indian history to his father. 

The 565-page (times two) adventure that I undertook with Skanda captivated me so completely that I am considering reading the book for a third time, a unique idea in my book-reading history. 

Aatish Tazeer, 36, lives in New Delhi and New York. His writing is poetic but unsentimental. I find his rich vocabulary and etymological take on words fascinating. His previous three books have enjoyed literary acclaim. He and his mother are journalists. His father, as Governor of Punjab, was assassinated in 2011 for opposing a law criminalising blasphemy. 

Irene Roper

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