The Thing About Thugs

The Thing About Thugs

Book - 2012
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"In a small Bihari village, Captain William T. Meadows finds just the man to further his phrenological research back home: Amir Ali, confessed member of the infamous Thugee cult. With tales of a murderous youth redeemed, Ali gains passage to England, his villainously shaped skull there to be studied. Only Ali knows just how embroidered his story is, so when a killer begins depriving London's underclass of their heads, suspicion naturally falls on the "thug." With help from fellow immigrants led by a shrewd Punjabi woman, Ali journeys deep into a hostile city in an attempt to save himself and end the gruesome murders. Ranging from skull-lined mansions to underground tunnels concealing a ghostly people, The Thing about Thugs is a feat of imagination to rival Wilkie Collins or Michael Chabon. Short-listed for the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize, this Victorian role reversal is a sly take on the post-colonial novel and marks the arrival of a compelling Indian novelist to North America. "-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
ISBN: 9780547731605
Branch Call Number: FIC/KHAIR
Characteristics: 244 p. ; 22 cm.


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Aug 07, 2013

Toss extract of Dickens, a squeeze of Wilkie Collins, elusive hints of Conan Doyle and Rohinton Mistry together with righteous postcolonial anger and what do you get? Something more enticing than that list of ingredients: this novel. This is a carefully but beautifully written novel about a lower-caste Indian confronting the crimes of the powerful with no weapon but imagination both in his own country and in England. It entertains while meditating on memory, the power of fiction, the limits of empathy and the unhealed wounds of history. If some of the points made are underlined a little heavily, the story itself is lightfooted and nimble. It's a treat to look at Victorian London through the eyes of the Indian narrator. This is several cuts above the run-of-the-mill Victorian pastiche that is so popular now. Thanks for taking a chance on this one, HPL!


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