Read The Last Jet-Engine Laugh by Ruchir Joshi Online


This is a debut novel from India of an utterly original kind. Joshi has found a style and a form in which to say new things about the Indian experience in a new manner. Like Roy, Joshi is doing something entirely fresh. The novel takes three generations of a Gujarati family and uses them to track the course of Indian history back to 1930 and forward into the first decadesThis is a debut novel from India of an utterly original kind. Joshi has found a style and a form in which to say new things about the Indian experience in a new manner. Like Roy, Joshi is doing something entirely fresh. The novel takes three generations of a Gujarati family and uses them to track the course of Indian history back to 1930 and forward into the first decades of the next century. The grandparents are disciples of Gandhi, smart, sarcastic and principled; they meet on a non-violent demonstration against British rule in Calcutta in the 1930s, fall in love while falling under the army's baton. Their only son, Paresh, our principal narrator, grows up to drift through life, torn in different directions all at once. In turn, he produces a daughter, Para, who is tomboyish, aggressive, martial, and, in her sequences in the book, a squadron leader in the Indian Air Force when, in the near future, India is at war with a Muslim Pakistani-Iranian alliance. She therefore kills people for a living and is the antithesis of her grandparents' principles of Gandhiesque non-violence, civil disobedience and passive resistance. This trajectory of Indian history from non-violence to belligerent jingoism is reflected in key episodes in the lives of this family. All four key characters are fascinating, and each of the setpieces in which they figure is stunningly handled by Joshi. The writing is sharp, modern, fluent and varied. Joshi is equally adept at handling crowd scenes, midair battles, sexual farce and embarrassing encounters. It is a book that is jaded and yet principled, ribald and yet serious, laddish and yet sensitive. It feels authentic, considered and moving at all times. It's a winner....

Title : The Last Jet-Engine Laugh
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780002570893
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Last Jet-Engine Laugh Reviews

  • Laurie
    2019-04-13 09:59

    Tried but could not get past first chapter. Really wanted to like this book but the style of writing was like gibberish to me. Had to stop.

  • Hilary G
    2019-04-16 15:52

    Ex Bookworm group review:Put simply, this was the saga of a family called Bhatt over three generations from before Indian independence to a time beyond our own. But it was anything but simple. At first, I found it rather difficult, rather inaccessible. It required some effort to get into, but it was worth the effort.. My feelings about the book when I had only read the first 100 or so pages were completely schizophrenic and deeply affected by two impressions, one bad, one good. Firstly, all the foreign language in the book was irritating, obstructive to the story and way overdone. It really isn't possible to grasp the nuances between Gujerati, Hindi and Bengali when you don't understand any of them. Secondly, the chronology of the book was non-existent. It was random, perverse and confusing. But I liked it! It reminded me of an apocryphal story about the Beatles, where on one song (was it Sergeant Pepper?) George Martin was supposed to have taken a tape of a piece of music, chopped it into bits, thrown the bits up into the air, then picked them up and spliced the bits back together in random order producing a capricious, kaleidoscopic, whimsical interlude that challenged you to try and make sense of it. Paresh's memories were like that and making sense of them was quite hard work. Good exercise for the cerebrum, this one. But this is how people remember, isn't it? You don't remember your first day and then every day thereafter in chronological order. Some months or years you hardly remember anything at all, but other memories stick out like icebergs. Sometimes these are big events, sometimes they are small, more personal ones. Sometimes they are family stories you have been told, sometimes they are things you have experienced yourself. But memory is random and it is prompted by photographs, letters, songs, just as it was in the book. Another strong memory evoked for me by the book was the many afternoons spent with my mum going through a battered brown cardboard box (which irrelevantly, I will tell you, had "48 SAUCERS TEA", "FRAGILE" and "NOT TO BE OPENED UNTIL REQUIRED FOR USE" on it) of old photographs, letters, old tickets to cinemas and theatres and things of that ilk in it. I would say to my mum, "Who's that" and she would say something like "That's my Auntie Pem's husband, Jasper, who was sued for breach of promise when he refused to marry someone he got engaged to" or "that's your dad's uncle Frank, no-one in the family would have anything to do with him because he ran off with his nephew's wife". Most interestingly, on finding some love poems addressed to her from someone called Joe Egg and asking her who they were from, was told they were from my dad (Who wasn't called Joe or Egg). These often repeated stories about people and events from before I was born are woven into the history of my family, just like the love affair between Mahadev and Suman is woven into the history of the Bhatts. Small things, like the Jet Engine Laugh, assume a disproportionate relevance compared to historical events in a family context. I remember hardly anything about the Vietnam war which should have been a big event in my lifetime, but I remember vividly two women in our street having a punch up in one of their back gardens when I was about five. I thought Joshi was perceptive in his understanding of how memory works and skilful in conveying it, though it made the book more difficult to read than a story which runs chronologically from "once upon a time" to "they all lived happily ever after".Although part of the book was set in the future, it didn't feel like science fiction, possibly because the future (for us) was the present and the past for Paresh. I thought there was remarkable invention in portraying the future and it could have just been a planetary post-apocalyptic vision, but it was kept small and personal, kept in the family. I was fascinated by the parts about the water and though some of the social implications on a big scale were explored, the better understanding was in learning how Paresh had a poo or a bath.Apart from the Gujerati, Bengali etc, which I hated because it was opaque to me, I thought Joshi often had a great command of language. There were lots of times when I stopped and thought "that's really cool". There was some over-writing and I meant to quote one bit but I can't find it now, where he had mixed up a dozen metaphors and sprinkled them with clever-clogsy verbal acrobatics, a whole paragraph to describe something very ordinary, and I remember thinking God, it's only a bottle of milk (or whatever it was). But this was only from time to time, and this is Joshi's first novel. I feel sure he is a writer to watch in the future.I liked many of the characters in the book, with their idiosyncrasies and their eccentricities, but I liked Para best of all. She was terrific. It's odd really that the parts of the book I found the easiest to relate to were those set in the imaginary future. The past (and indeed the present) were more difficult because of my abyssmal lack of knowledge about Indian history. I had no idea who Subhash Bose was and had to do some serious Googling to make any sense of all that.All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I was rather sorry when I got to the end of it. I felt I had got to know this family quite well and would have been happy to find out more about them. It wasn't a perfect book and wasn't, I think, one to relax with. It required quite a lot of mental agility and wide-awakeness. But I thought it was different, interesting and worthwhile.P.S. It found it absolutely un-reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut. Don't they put some rubbish on the covers of books in order to tempt you to read them?

  • Kytetiger
    2019-04-16 08:10

    Interesting style.Some self-gratification description.But is not Salman Rushdie, who wishes to be.

  • Sandeep
    2019-04-13 13:00

    So The Last Jet-Engine Laugh is one of the best-written books I’ve come across, but the structure of the book left me quite befuddled (and that takes some doing, I having a brain the size of a planet and all). It’s all very well to fiddle around with narrative structure, but it’s either got to have a form or some point. Mr. Joshi doesn’t have either. I mean, that’s the problem with the book: what is the bloody point?Various anecdotes in various space-time continuums about various characters in the Patel genealogy give us an idea into something, I can’t put my finger on it, which eventually leads to our understanding of wossname and his/her goings on in somewhere-or-the-other. There’s vague talk of the future where all water comes in capsules, including scatalogically detailed explanations of how people take a dump in the mid-21st century, combined with a nuclear war where Karachi and Bombay have already been wiped out. There’re flashbacks into pre-Independence Ahmedabad and how two people fell in love while braving a stampede. There’s Calcutta in all its splendour running like a used tampon all through the book. It’s about places, people, paraphernalia and pointlessness. It’s exciting in the quality of the writing, because the man is a genius in turning phrases and quite the Grand Panjandrum for similes, metaphors and what-have-yous. But story-telling is a different art. It’s more than picturesque speech.

  • Richard
    2019-04-06 15:03

    Been meaning to read this for awhile, so I did. Very poetic fiction, less concerned with structure than most "stories". Hard to enjoy alot while reading, kind of book that gives you a sense of it all when you finish. The writing slips in and out of consciousness(es), especially at the end. Another metafiction device that I feel was pulled off fairly well. First Indian modern fiction I've read, will keep an eye on this guy.

  • Maia
    2019-04-08 10:04

    enjoyed it, plot, imagination and language, great fun, got rid of it, missed it frequently ever since, and that never happens to me. Totally recommend and definitely a 9 out of 10 despite being a fun novel and interesting about India and light scifi rather than a Great Novel

  • Viku
    2019-04-17 08:17

    Interesting Book, well written and enjoyable.