If the early chapters are like riding a whirlwind, what follows is like being becalmed mid sea, says Sathya Saran in the Outlook
Kalyan Ray speaks in many tongues. The book begins like a film, with a crime scene, viewed narrow-eyed by the investigating officer. With readers conditioned by American crime series, it makes the opening a sure way to grab attention. Then, without warning, the reader is dropped into Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland. In the book-loving, quiet Brenden and his hot-headed friend Padraig, we meet the two boys whose lives will continue through the lives of others, over the next 500 pages. We also encounter what will be a constant—the beauty of Ray’s descriptive prose.
Vivid descriptions of places, scenes, people force us to read at a leisurely pace and take in the ever-changing landscape as the story shuttles between continents and generations, mapping their internal and external geography. It is writing of a style that beguiles and teases with its imagery. Ray starts the Brenden story in language that is coloured with Irish phrases. It is strangely appealing once the unease with the usage wears off. When Brenden says, “My eyes averted in finicky disgust as I saw her phelgm descending from one nostril…” the image shared is as real as the disgust it evokes. Slowly, the reader is being unfailingly drawn.