The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru

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Synopsis

Pran Nath Razdan, the boy who will become the Impressionist, was passed off by his Indian mother as the child of her husband, a wealthy man of a high caste. Pran lived a life of luxury just downriver from the Taj Mahal, but at fifteen, the news of Pran's true parentage is revealed to his father and he is tossed out into the street—a pariah and an outcast. Thus begins an extraordinary, near mythical journey of a young man who must reinvent himself to survive—not once, but many times.

From Victorian India to Edwardian London, from an expatriate community of black Americans in Paris to a hopeless expedition to study a lost tribe of Africa, Hari Kunzru's unforgettable debut novel dazzles with its artistry and wit while it challenges with its insights into what it means to be Indian or English, black or white, and every degree that lies between.


 

About Hari Kunzru

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Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, and My Revolutions, and is the recipient of the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Prize from the Society of Authors, a British Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Granta has named him one of its twenty best young British novelists, and he was a Fellow at the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his short stories and journalism have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Wired, and the New Statesman. He lives in New York City. www.harikunzru.com
 
Published March 25, 2003 by Plume. 476 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Impressionist

The Guardian

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The Impressionist Hari Kunzru 435pp, Hamish Hamilton £12.99 The House of Blue Mangoes David Davidar 422pp, Weidenfeld £16.99 These two debut novels, historical epics set largely in British India in the first half of the 20th century, are, on the face of it, polar opposites.

Mar 23 2002 | Read Full Review of The Impressionist

The Guardian

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The Impressionist Hari Kunzru Hamish Hamilton £12.99, pp482 There are bags of talent to be found in Hari Kunzru's rather hyped first novel, but they're compact in size and oddly distributed through the book.

Mar 31 2002 | Read Full Review of The Impressionist

Publishers Weekly

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While the initial chapters are somewhat heavy-handed, and the plot stalls in its overfamiliar satire of the Oxford aesthetes, the African chapters exude a Paul Bowles–like power, and the seamlessly composed, vividly exotic set pieces exhibit an energy and density not usually found in debut fiction.

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Publishers Weekly

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When Pran Nath, a pampered Bombay boy, suddenly finds himself banished to the streets, he becomes "Rukhsana," dressing in women's clothes and working in a brothel.

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Book Reporter

"In between each impression, at the moment when one person falls away and the next has yet to take possession, the Impressionist is completely blank.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Impressionist

London Review of Books

Colour is all important in this novel: it is both a general concept and an individual gift or failing, like genius or stupidity, and its meaning changes from context to context, just as Kunzru’s protagonist does.

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India Today

Though the Rushdie-inspired esoterism and exhibitionism mark the high-wattage narration, unlike in Rushdistan, history is a loose adjective to Pran's world, where the text of his story remains unscarred by the context of history.

Apr 08 2002 | Read Full Review of The Impressionist

The Paris Review

Depending on who I’m talking to, and how I feel, I might describe myself simply as a Londoner, British (that one’s only crept in since I came to live in New York—to anyone in the UK, it’s weirdly meaningless), English, the son of an Indian father and an English mother, Kashmiri Pandit, rootless c...

Mar 06 2012 | Read Full Review of The Impressionist

Reader Rating for The Impressionist
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