Saturday, August 27, 2016

Review: Malice

     It is, admittedly, somewhat hard to continue being the stereotypical bookworm if you are not used to the electronic book format. And, even then, for many, there is this sensual pleasure lost of the touch and feel of a book, the smell of its pages that the cold and convenient elegance of e-reading cannot provide. However, much more active than that is the force of distraction that haunts the very corridors which provide you access to books online or on an app. Still, this is the stance of a few and I, for one, am plunging, at least now and then, into the world of reading off an app. For the moment it's the Kindle App. But I've yet to sustain myself on that - there are problems of Net connectivity or access, in the main.

Thus, it has become a travel ritual for us to carry books. For this trip I carried Higashino Keigo’s Malice and Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years Of Reporting South Asia.

     Malice is my third book by Keigo Higashino. My first, Journey Under The Midnight Sun, remains my favourite. I know I’ve given in to my hasty reading style which causes me to skip to the end and then work my way up and down a book after I’ve been good for a few pages or chapters. But this is one book I sincerely hope to re-read. Everything is transparent in his writing, on the one hand, and that is why his masterly sleights of hand and the challenges he sets himself in terms of being a writer become so magnetic. His books are page turners, every one of them so far.

    My second Higashino has cult status and it has remained unrivalled in some portrayals, some things it stirs within that are both liberating and tormenting: The Devotion Of Suspect X. 



     During my week in Kochi I had the chance to chat with a trio of undergrads from English Literature. In particular, I asked if they’d seen Drishyam, a local film reportedly based on this book. Apparently they had but, they reported, their fathers had not taken kindly to the movie, accusing it of glorifying crime. This, at least, proved to me the usual massive mess up that marks the morphing of a novel to the screen. Nonetheless, here is the trailer of the Malayalam version without subtitles


and here is the teaser of the Hindi version with English subtitles


However, there’s something about his writing that is irresistible to filmmakers and so you have Korean and Japanese drama and film versions of his novels. I’ve not liked too many so far.

The Koreans have delighted in remaking his works and here's a taste of one



And, of course, since Higashino is Japanese it is only fair to introduce you of a sample. This one was not too bad at all


I’ve not been able to find out if there’s been a drama or film version of Malice and would be grateful if anyone knows of any such.

As with his other books, the meat of the matter in Malice only surfaces at the very bitter end. And yet everything is laid out neatly for you, dear reader, from the word go.

He plays extensively here with the concept of multiple memories of one and the same thing; how a single person can be viewed so very diversely, on the one hand, and how, on the other, we see only what we are made to see. Bullying, a major issue in many Japanese films and dramas, emerges as a significant thread though not really the bone of contention, perhaps.

While there is no physicist or mathematician in Malice, there is indubitably in it the very thing most characteristic of a Higashino or, indeed, of any writer worth his salt: there is that in it which informs. You will leave such a book with some knowledge, something is learned most painlessly and therein lies the art of the writer and her/his worth. This is a book which also explores the world of writing as it is lived, practiced and perceived today.

The cover picture aptly captures the elegance of this crime story, using the austere cherry blossom twig to represent a certain scene from its pages. I fully endorse this as a splendid piece of murder mystery to read on a journey.
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