The Impressionist met with widespread approval but lacked a champion. we all agreed that it was well written, inventive and much more besides but no-one offered it unconditional love.
he was wonderful at painting pictures of foreign places, times and attitudes (it knocked When we were Ophans into a cocked crombie) Red readily confirms that it’s a lot like India even down to the effects of a special lassi! and i thought the final section in fotseland was particularly vivid.
he had a knack for making his major supporting characters convincing, despite all being deeply flawed for no better reason than the progression of the story he managed to make them believable.. yes, they were clearly 2-dimensional caricatures, none of whom were given the opportunity to develope a depth of their but they never teeted over into farce or unnecessary grotesequeness.. and the little vignettes that sketched the biographies of each of the major minor players was economical and apposite.
meanwhile, the lack of character of the main character was more of a problem.. while perhaps that was the whole point of the book, it certainly annoyed me that there did not seem to be anything permanent under his changing exterior.. the malicious mischeviousness of his privileged childhood disappeared, and then the passive bewilderment of Fatehpur was rapidly replaced by a scheming swaggering confidence in bombay, which deserted him in england.. where once again he slipped back into a passivity that is never really escaped. instead he seems to evaporate.
nonetheless, i’m happy to have read it and do like his website
(and he turned down the John Llewellyn Rhys prize for his book because it was sponsored by the zenophobic Mail on Sunday – Kudos Kunzru!)