John / Literary Fiction

Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri

Amit Chaudhuri’s Odysseus Abroad follows a day in the life of Ananda, a young Indian student at University College in London. Ananda is a literature student whose interests lie mostly in writing and reading poetry. He has little interest in the pre-twentieth century writers his professors keep forcing on him and some interest in a former professor of his named Hilary. Her vision problems worsened to such a degree that she had to take a leave from the college. Ananda merely mulls over memories of her, particularly a time when she took his arm and he helped walk her around the campus. Like a lot of this novel, his relationship with her is in the past even though his feelings don’t seem to be entirely there. Over the course of the day Ananda also meets up with Radhesh, his equally displaced and unhappy uncle.

There’s more action in one paragraph of a Baldacci thriller than in all of Odysseus Abroad. I’d like to think that I don’t mind subtlety in writing, but this one was far too subtle for me. Ananda almost seems to be sedated, and most plot points in the book, if they could even be called that, are left unresolved. I thought Ananda would run into Hilary at some point but Chaudhuri seems dead set on such usual plot points not taking place. This approach makes Odysseus Abroad memorable but not in a particularly good way.



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