Título: The snake charmer; a novel
Editorial: William Morrow, New York
Año de publicación: 1998
Condición de la sobrecubierta: Dust Jacket Included
Ejemplar firmado: Signed by Author(s)
Edición: 1st Edition
Hailed as an important new voice in fiction, Sanjay Nigam's debut is the story of a luckless snake charmer in an India both real and utterly magical
Named "The Year's Best Fiction" by A. Magazine, The Snake Charmer tells the story of Sonalal, a middle-age snake charmer making a living with his been pipe and his beloved cobra, Raju. Despite his great skills, Sonalal's drinking and womanizing seem to have marked him for a life of insignificance. But that all changes one remarkable afternoon when he produces music so beautiful he is certain the gods must be listening. In a moment that will change his life forever, Raju bites Sonalal, and Sonalal bites back, destroying the one creature who loves him. The Snake Charmer traces Sonalal's bumpy journey through brief celebrity, profound remorse, and a quest for answers to unanswerable questions of love, life, and art. Sparely and beautifully written, this "novel of enchantments" (Oscar Hijuelos) is an unforgettable debut, confirming the Washington Post's comparison of Nigam to Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra.
* Penguin Readers Guide Bound into Every Book
"An engaging, light as a feather tale . . . Sonalal is, in short, a marvelous creation." --Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"The opening qualifies as the season's best." --USA Today
"An exceptional novel."--The Washington Post
* A selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Quality Paperback Book Club
* A Quality Paperback New Voices Fiction Award nominee
* The Utne Reader recently honored Nigam as one of the ten important writers who comprise "The New Face of Fiction"
"Some lifetimes seem to hinge on a single day, and for Sonalal today was that day."
A middle-aged snake charmer wakes up one morning in Delhi, little knowing that by evening his whole world will have been turned upside down, his life irrevocably changed. Married to an embittered wife, the father of two indifferent sons, Sonalal's closest relationship is with his elderly snake, Raju--a defanged cobra with whom he has worked for 15 years. On this day, Sonalal and Raju set up shop in front of a popular tourist destination and for nine straight hours the charmer plays while the snake dances. At the end of the evening, just as he is about to stop for the day, Sonalal is tempted to perform one last time by the arrival of a busload of foreign journalists. At first, Raju refuses to cooperate and Sonalal is embarrassed. Then he begins to play "variations on Raju's favorite tune, such beautiful variations that, had they been recorded, might have guaranteed Sonalal's immortality. It was as if the finest music of his ancestors--seven generations of charmers--had condensed into the enchanting combination of notes now coming from his new been." Raju dances, the journalists shower the charmer with money and in his excitement, Sonalal begins to play wrong notes. Raju becomes enraged and bites; Sonalal, in a moment of madness bites back, severing the snake in two.
And therein lies the tale.
The Snake Charmer is Sanjay Nigam's deceptively simple novel about a deceptively simple man. Not for Nigam the verbal pyrotechnics of Salman Rushdie or Arundhati Roy; he tells his tale from just behind Sonalal's ear, opening up his character's heart and mind as well as his world in prose that is both simple and lyrical. Sonalal's moment of madness in front of the foreign journalists leads to his 15 minutes of fame: for a few days, his face and story are splashed across newspapers around the world, and for a few brief moments he has the admiration of his family, friends, and neighbors. But fame is no antidote to the tremendous guilt that gnaws at him; in fact, the greater his fame, the angrier Sonalal becomes at the world's incomprehension of the gravity of his crime. As his character seeks desperately for solace first in medicine, then in magic, and eventually in the arms of his favorite prostitute, Nigam limns a compassionate portrait of one man's crisis of faith and despair against a backdrop of modern-day India. By turns tough and tender, The Snake Charmer marks an impressive debut by one of India's most promising new storytellers. --Alix Wilber
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