The Smoke is Rising, by Mahesh Rao, and The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter. A funny, angry view of contemporary India, and a Boy’s Own picture of one of its past tipping points: The Spectator
Mysore, once the capital of a princely kingdom in South India, has lost its lustre. In Mahesh Rao’s darkly comic novel, grandiose futuristic visions are being floated: in a city desperate to reinvent itself for today’s brave new world, ancient temples and palaces are no longer enough. With India’s space programme about to send a man to the moon, Mysore must make its own giant leap. All hopes are pinned on what is destined to be a global tourist attraction: HeritageLand, planned as Asia’s largest theme park (think Mughal Waterworld — the Disneyland of south India!) And Mysore needs a new marketing slogan — ‘The Geneva of the East?’ suggests a desperate PR person. Well, at least there’s a lake.