I didn't pay much attention -- either to the book or it's reading -- until I came stumbled on this review of the book posted at ibnlive.com. I thought the title of the article captured it all:"Hostel Room 131: the delight is in the detail." The graphic nature of the sexual content the book is further illustrated in the last couple of lines from the review:
"R. Raj Rao has a way with characters, and story telling getting it down to the delicious details. Even if means two male lovers basking in each other’s body fluids."What sprang immediately in my mind was a very similar tale of a couple of young male lovers -- at story that shuttled between Missouri and New Delhi many decades back. I had heard it as an anecdote from one of the two (lovers) -- a recent acquaintance acquired after a near-one-night-stand. It was such a moving tale of lust, love, romance, and heart-break and was set in the background of the hostel of a strict Catholic college in the early '70s India. The "tenderloins" of the story was marinated by the spice of the necessity to remain under cover, were ravaged by the burden of forced straight marriage (on my acquaintance's lover's side), which eventually led to the couple's separation.
I sent my acquaintance an SMS asking him if he had heard about the book. He replied saying that he had seen the book at a local Crossword bookstore, had had not paid attention to it because he didn't think too highly of the author. I asked him whether he knew of the background of the book, and he replied saying that he didn't have a clue. I gave him a hint that the book was very similar to his past love affair. To this, I haven't received a reply yet.
I wonder -- I really do, having heard so many incredible tales of queer love affairs in the past from my fuck-buddies and acquaintances -- what will befall author like Rao if my friends sat down to write books based on their glorious pasts? I'm sure these books would be very interesting and non-cichéd. So would, perhaps, a book about my relationship with Vinokur or my early adulthood in Kerala be -- if I were to put it down that is. And maybe I should.
(Picture courtesy: Penguinbooksindia.com)