The Better Man: A Novel

The Better Man: A NovelAfter ladies coupe, I picked up this book I enjoyed watching Kerala come alive in front of me as I read the book I could almost hear the monsoon and see the big imposing tharavadu and the paddy fields I could feel Mukundans fear, loneliness and understand his desires.The writer has taken a simple story of a man with numerous ghosts from his past finding himself and told it with such breathtakingly beautiful prose The book should be read for the experience, for a feel of the place for anyone who has visited Kerala will relate to it and for the plot which is fresh and simple.Definitely worth a read I am giving it only three stars for the book feels a little unfinished and abrupt As though the author decided to stop writing and start again in places The conflicts are resolved in a hurry and that acts against the whole feel of the book. It took me a surprisingly long time to finish this book This is my first tryst with Anita Nair and I loved the imagery created by her while describing even dreary things like the death of Bhasi s father who falls to his death while climbing a coconut tree For many years the tree had known the passion of his heave and thrust as he scaled it day after day.One morning , like a woman who had lost interest , it loosened itself from his embrace and carelessly thrust him away to his death I unconsciously ended up smiling at such lines even though the situation demanded a different emotion.While Mukundan s character was explored in depth , I was a bit disappointed with the unravelling of Bhasi s and also failed to empathize with his love for the village I was also quite puzzled at the bromance one sided portrayed between Mukundan and Bhasi.Having said that , I am definitely looking forward to readingof Ms.Nair s writing just for her flair of bringing to life the most mundane of activities through her lovely writing. Overall a nice book, with beautiful descriptions of village life and people But I was not as captivated by it as I was with other books by her It was a little slow, and I didn t feel strongly for any of the characters contrasting against Mistress, where I could empathize with all of the four main characters.The story is skillfully woven around psychology of Mukundan, a man who is both in awe and terror of his father a tyrannical man who bullied him throughout his childhood, trying to make him strong as himself, but only succeeding in driving him further and further away from it While his father holds him in contempt, Mukundan hates his father for the treatment he gave himself and his mother, but at the same time, cannot help being in awe of him seeing how he is both feared and respected by the entire village When Mukundan is forced to return to his paternal village after retirement, he only has one objective to prove that he is a better man than his father But he has to contend with the ghosts of his past, as well as his father, who still seems to hold a power over him He befriends a painter called Bhasi, who has the gift of healing minds, however he is reluctant to commit himself to this friendship completely It takes a trap that he easily falls into, one that robs him of the happiness that has come quite late in his life, to make him actually realize his own failings, and the real strength of his father one that comes from within The author does not provide a quick and easy solution to his wretched feelings, but leaves him with a realization of his mistakes and attempts to redeem himself.The character of Bhasi was rather puzzling it is difficult to understand his devotion to the village he has adopted, and evenso to Mukundan, despite the rebuffs Although he is a main character, his story felt incomplete. The only aspect in this book that s worth an applause is the cover art But apparently there are different versions of the book cover since the book was published by many publishers I specifically liked the one which showcases an elderly man, shielding himself from rains with a feeble umbrella, keeping his face blissfully obscure Something in the body language of the man tells us that rain or no rain, the man would like to remain in the shadows and will not like to face anything or anyone, as long as he has a choice Great work there, aptly suiting the protagonist s character.Anita Nair s ingenious narrative skills do little to make the reader s attention stay afloat with The Better Man Her depiction of Kaikurussi is lovely, and the painstakingly written details about the town, the surroundings, and the general backdrop are brilliant They bring the town alive The characterization is another element worth mentioning, considering this book, unlike a lot of Nair s works, has male lead characters However, the backdrop and characters can in no way grip the readers minds and having a wafer thin story line doesn t help the cause at all With so weak a plot, Nair deserves to be appreciated for not having given up writing the book mid way There are way too many side tracks that finish even before they start and one if left feeling baffled at many points as to what they read in the last few chapters and how exactly it fits the coming chapters May be worth a read, if you are doing a specific study on imaginary towns in Kerala.Better to stay away from this book, unless you have a lot of time to kill and prefer book form boredom to staying idle. I admired the author s refusal to create a happy ending The protagonist, Mukundan, begins the struggle to recover his life and begin to create something worthwhile under the tutelage of a village house painter, but then stumbles when faced with deeper problems in his own character The depiction of life in an Indian village is vivid, the characters are distinct and quirky, the kind that develop in isolated places, the main characters sympathetic. One of the best books I ve read in the recent past I was engrossed in this book from the first page and could let go of the story only by the end This novel is much better than Ladies Coupe the much acclaimed book by the same author This is a slightly melancholic story of a confirmed bachelor who retires adn comes back to settle at his parental ancestral house in a small village in Kerala He meets various persons, has many experiences, falls in love, makes mistakes, learns from those, befriends a painter who is not what he seemsThis book will surely be a pleasure to those who liked solo , God of small things , inheritance of loss. In Anita Nair S Warm And Imaginative First Novel, Middle Aged Bachelor Mukundan Returns To His Native Indian Village And Is Haunted By The Past Determined To Conquer Old Ghosts, Mukundan Decides To Restore His Childhood Home And Hires One Screw Loose Bhasi, An Outcast Painter, To Oversee The Renovations A Practitioner Of A Unique Style Of Healing, Bhasi Sets About Mending His Troubled Friend, But The Durability Of Mukundan S Transformation Into A Better Man Is Soon Called Into Question With Humor, Wisdom, And A Keen Understanding Of Human Frailty, Anita Nair Has Written A Playful And Moving Account Of The Redemptive Power Of Friendship A good read Actually started reading many months back Took a long time to read the first 150 pages After that, the narrative gainspace and I finished the remaining pages rather quickly The author has given attention to detail and carefully constructed each vital character as the story progressed This is my first Anita Nair book. Well written, complex but not so much so that it was hard to follow I fealt that the characters and situations were realistic I don t think the paranormal events were dealt with well, however I would recommend. The Better Man is the story of Mukundan, a fifty two year old retired government employee who returns back to his village Kaikurissi in North Kerela He is haunted by feelings of inadequacy as he tries to live up to the expectations of his harsh and domineering father and feelings of guilt about not saving his mother from the untenable position she finds herself in when his father takes up living with another woman just outside her doorstep When he returns to his village he is befriended by one screw loose Bhasi, an educated man who works as a house painter by day and moonlights as a herbal healer There is a wonderful cast of characters and the author spends some time providing some insights into many of their lives There is the main protagonist Mukundan and his childhood amour Meenakshi, his current love Anjali, his mother and father and the old family retainer I have often wondered what people do after retirement Mukundan is only fifty two and he has already completed his life s work and has returned back to his village and ancestral home to while away another 20 or 25 years This is a common phenomenon in Kerela with many people going to work in the middle east, sending money back home to build large homes and then coming back in their late fifties to live alone in palatial luxury as their children have grown up and moved away The author gives a good sense of the slow rhythm of small town village life One screw loose Bhasi is another interesting character with his educated background, failed youthful romance and later marriage to a strong woman Damayanti who got widowed at a young age What attracts him to Mukundan and why does he feel a strong sense of kinship to him is not very clear Their friendship helps Mukundan overcome some of his neurosis around his fathers domination and mothers early death It also provides a kind of test for Mukundan to prove his better nature. he initially falters and chooses to abandon those who love him for the sake of being accepted by the village elite However, he then changes and becomes a better man Such challenges however come not just once in a persons life, but many times Mukundan still has a long road ahead The authors language and prose is superb The descriptions are evocative Also many other nuances of village life such as caste discrimination are woven in through characters such as Kanban the harijan post office employee I am an avid fiction reader and am usually racing through a book to find out what happens next in the story skipping large tracts of descriptive passages However this was a rare book, which I enjoyed despite there not being much of a plot. I was not terribly interested in knowing what happens next with Mukundan, but was just enjoying the feeling of being immersed in that lush, quite Kerela village.

Anita Nair is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of the novels The Better Man, Ladies Coup , Mistress, Lessons in Forgetting, Idris Keeper of the Light and Alphabet Soup for Lovers She has also authored a crime series featuring Inspector Gowda.Anita Nair s other books include a collection of poems titled Malabar Mind, a collection of essays titled Goodnight God Bless and six b

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  • Paperback
  • 368 pages
  • The Better Man: A Novel
  • Anita Nair
  • English
  • 09 February 2019
  • 9780312253769

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