[Read] ➯ We That Are Young ➸ Preti Taneja – Writerscompany.co.uk

We That Are Young A Stunning Debut Novel, A Modern Day King Lear Set In Contemporary India The Tale Of A Battle For Power Within A Turbulent Family, For Status Within A Nation In A Constant State Of Transformation, And For The Love And Respect Of A Father Disappearing Into Dementia.Jivan Singh, The Bastard Scion Of The Devraj Family Returns To His New Delhi Childhood Home At The Age Of Twenty Three After Fifteen Years In The United States His Arrival Coincides With The Unexpected Resignation Of The Founder And Ageing Patriarch Of The Company Its Simple Name Belying Its Vast Holdings Across Industry And Entertainment, And The Family S National Renown On The Same Day, Sita, Devraj S Youngest Daughter, Disappears Refusing To Marry The Man Her Father Wants For Her Now, Radha And Gargi, Sita S Older Sisters, Are Given The Company And A Brutal Struggle For Power Begins Set Against The Backdrop Of The Anti Corruption Riots That Spread Across India In 2011 And 2012, We That Are Young Is Brilliant In Its Fierce, Incandescent Story Telling And The Energy Of Its Prose It Tells A Deeply Insightful Tale Of India Today, The Pace Of Life In One Of The World S Fastest Growing Economies, The Clash Of Youth And Age, And The Ever Present Specter Of Death But Than That, It Is A Novel About The Human Heart And Its Inevitable Breaking Point. NOW RE READ AFTER ITS INCLUSION ON THE REPUBLIC OF CONSCIOUSNESS PRIZE LONG LIST.We That Are Young is published by Galley Beggar Press Perhaps best known as the publisher that took the risk on A Girl Is a Half formed Thing after everyone else had rejected it it went on to win the Women s Prize for Fiction , Galley Beggar Press is also the publisher of the wonderful Forbidden Line that I read earlier this year and which remains one of the most unusual books I have read in 2017.My thanks to Galley Beggar Press for an ARC of Preti Taneja s re working of King Lear Taneja takes the story and transposes it to India This works really well it is the ideal setting King Lear ends with a speech that gives Taneja her title The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say The oldest hath borne most we that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long.And, as the book points out, India is a young nation of young people We live in a young country, Jivan Five years ago you couldn t even get Coca Cola in a can here The kids who are making money no NOW DESERVEDLY THE WINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE TO FOLLOW ITS SHORTLISING FOR THE REPUBLIC OF CONSCIOUSNESS PRIZE for which I was a judge Galley Beggar Press is a small publisher responsible which aims to produce and support beautiful books and a vibrant, eclectic, risk taking range of literature and which declares an aim to publish books that are hardcore literary fiction and gorgeous prose a description which has been taken as the criteria for the Republic Of Consciousness prize.Its most striking success to date has been in being prepared to publish Eimear McBride s A Girl Is a Half formed Thing which had taken 9 years to find a publisher and of course went on to win the Bailey s Prize We That Are Young is a debut novel by Preti Taneja a human rights advocate and literary academic Between 2014 16 she held a Post Doc position at Queen Mary, University of London and Warwick University, working on Shakespeare performances in relation to human rights abuses and in humanitarian situationsThis novel flows directly from her joint interests and is explicitly a re telling of King Lear set in India in the early 2010 s against a background of the 2011 12 anti We That Are Young has a feel to it that s not dissimilar to Salman Rushdie s recent, 2017, novel, The Golden House That s praise Both novels ultimately revolve around a big figure, a patriarch, who is revealed to be rather less worthy of the adulation that his status and visibility might indicate Preti Taneja s Devraj Bapuji to Rushdie s Nero Golden Both books shine a spotlight on an India of the latter 20th century, far removed from the deference or degradation depending on your viewpoint of the indigenous population under the British Raj.India, the modern nation, in Taneja s account is conveyed in its vastness, diversity, poverty and cruelty It s well written and utterly convincing to this reader who hasn t experienced the country at first hand The division into five sections by character and overlapping timelines works well bringing different perspective to events taking place over a very short time span I found Jeet Rudra in the fictional city slum of Dhimbala to be the most striking of them.The frequently pitiable lot of women despite the exceptions of the two leading sisters, Garghi and Radha , is never far from the surface Sharam shame from birth.Families Dy This should have been right smack dab in my wheelhouse, given my penchant for both Indian lit and Shakespeare it s a modern retelling of Lear but I must say, despite some gorgeous prose, I found it for the most part rather tedious and almost gave up halfway through In need of much judicious editing the inciting incident of the patriarch s division of his spoils doesn t even occur into well over 100 pages into this LONG 553 pages , I was also than a little annoyed by the miniscule print of the Galley Beggar Press edition AND by the constant need to run to Google Translate, due to the many reversions to Hindi words and phrases it may instill verisimilitude, but a glossary or footnotes would have been a welcome antidote to the author s contempt for her non Indian readers As to the novel itself, sections of it are quite delightful and whereas Edward St Aubyn s recent Hogarth version of the story, Dunbar which I read just prior to this, so maybe I was Leared out by the time I got to this one , strays perhaps TOO far from the Shakespearian original, here Taneja clings a mite too steadfastly to certain elements that make little sense in a modern milieu for example, the blinding of the Gloucester character albeit one of the viscerally rendered scenes Most of the contemporary equiva A modern day re telling of King Lear , We Are That Young is a brilliant exploration of greed, corruption and vice in modern India The novel follows the aristocrat cum royal family of Devraj a patriarch whose puissance dissolves once he cedes ownership of his company to his elder daughters, Garghi and Radha, only to rise, ephemerally, like a phoenix, in a haze of self righteous indignation against the corruption inherent in the company he set up, riding a wife of populism based on deep seated misogyny and malevolent nationalism, We Are That Young both eschews the limitations so often placed on Indian literature, whilst at the same time exploring the problems inherent in modern Indian society the uneven distribution of wealth, the rise of parochial religious fundamentalism and the cultural schizophrenia India is experiencing under the relentless waves of globalization.There story is told via multiple narrators Jivan, the illegitimate son of Devraj s right hand man, Ranjit, is the first and penultimate narrator A vapid and ultimately egoistical young man, Jivan acts as the catalyst for the corruption and downfall of Garghi, trapped in a loveless relationship with a neurotic husband and Radha, married to the bellicose buffoon Bubu Jivan is the key by which both characters break free from the shackles of their father, Devraj Whilst objectively speaking the reader s sympathies should lie with Devraj, Tenaja, influenced partially by King Lear, paints Devraj as a chauvini I ve picked up this book as it received a lot of positive reviews here and has won Desmond Elliot prize for the first novel I have to admit I was somewhat underwhelmed The author models her book on King Lear and sets it in the modern day India In general, 2018 was the year of classic retelling by the modern authors in English language I am not big fan of the idea, though of course I admit that all the literature in a way is the retelling of the books written before At this case as well I felt quite ambivalent about King s Lear plot, and may be if I would not know about this fact, I would appreciate the book Broadly, she picks up the prototypes of the five young characters from the play and studies them Lets start with the positives the language at the beginning of the book felt energetic and fresh She uses the present tense throughout and that helps her builds up pace It worked for the first 100 pages or so But unfortunately, later it has become somewhat monotonic And at the sentence s level she is not always careful We can get this She rises Her blood is telling her to run, her head to stay and force answers Her heart wants Gargi and Radha her hands need to hold theirs I was happy not to know what her legs, stomach and We that are young, by Preti Taneja, is a fabulous reworking of King Lear Having enjoyed a number of adaptations of this Shakespearean tragedy on stage I was familiar with the direction the arc of the story was likely to take This did not in any way detract from my enjoyment The book is big in size, scope and depth The action is set in modern India and offers a masterclass in the country, its people, and the stubborness and hurt inherent in wider family feuds.The tale opens with the return of a son, Jivan, banished to America with his mother when he was thirteen years old Prior to this he had been one of five young playmates, although as the child of his father s mistress had never been permitted full integration into the privileged lives of his friends His half brother, Jeet, and he grew up alongside the three daughters of a hugely wealthy businessman, Devraj, who is also Jeet s godfather The girls clever Gargi, beautiful Radha, and baby Sita have in the intervening years grown into outwardly dutiful and obedient women.Jivan returns on the cusp of change The oppulent farm where the family now live is being prepared for Sita s engagement celebrations As Jivan is shown around, a lunch is taking place that will be the catalyst to Devraj s ruination.Economic growth has enabled India to consider itself a world player and with this has come a clash of cultures Despite the quality and beauty of lo Update 21 6 18 Now the well deserved winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 Congratulations to Preti Taneja and all at Galley Beggar This vibrant, epic, ambitious transplantation of King Lear to modern India is by far the longest book on the Republic of Consciousness Prize shortlist, and looks a potential winner Taneja keeps the essential elements of the familiar Shakespeare version of the story in place, but allows herself plenty of scope to explore the issues, extremes of wealth and poverty, corruption and factionalism of modern India.It is probably easiest to list the main players with their Shakespeare equivalents Devraj Bapuji Lear a super rich magnate and owner of one of India s biggest companies, his daughters Gargi Goneril , Radha Regan and Sita Cordelia , his henchmen Ranjit Gloucester and Kritik Kent , Ranjit s sons Jeet Edgar and the illegitimate Jivan Edmund Albany and Cornwall become Surendra and Bubu.The story is told in six parts The first five are told from the perspectives of the younger protagonists, and at the end of each chapter Bapuji gets to speak for himself, getting increasingly incoherent as the story proceeds This structure breaks up the linear narrative, and in some cases leads to events being described than once, from different viewpoints The last part is shorter and ties up the loose ends.In the first and longest part J A great book can be great at different levels, but a bad one doesn t have that luxury Mislaid by all the hype and praise from western critics made me pick up this book Probably this is the worst book I read in a long time Pathetic plotting, miserable attempt at adapting King Lear in Indian context, lack of real knowledge on the subcontinent is so evident I got migraine by constant feel of something getting drilled into my brain I h


About the Author: Preti Taneja

Praise for WE THAT ARE YOUNGWINNER OF THE DESMOND ELLIOT PRIZE 2018Sarah Perry, chair of judges, said Samira, Chris and myself were absolutely unanimous in our love and admiration for this novel, whose scope, ambition, skill and wisdom was, quite simply, awe inspiring all three of us sat together, shaking our heads, saying, If this is her first novel, what extraordinary work will come next


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