Wednesday, November 23, 2011
REVIEW: My Friend Sancho, by Amit Varma
My Friend Sancho is an unabashedly delightful cross-cultural love story set in modern day India, very much in the vein of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand or The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. Like these books, it visits serious issues but treats them with a light touch, and offers the readers both suspense and smiles, comedy and error.
Abir Ganguly is a reporter with a problem. He's called along for a routine police action against a suspected gangster that turns deadly; Mohammed Iqbal is a widowed accountant killed because the police think he's dangerous. Abir is then assigned a reportage piece profiling the dead man. To learn more about Iqbal, he interviews his daughter, Muneeza, who was present at her father's shooting and believes he was killed unjustly. She's outraged, and wants justice. Abir is attracted to her immediately, and thrown when he's then asked to profile the policeman who shot Iqbal, and to make both mens' story sympathetic. His growing fondness for Muneeza means he wants to believe that Iqbal was innocent, but his faith in law enforcement makes him skeptical. And, he's a Hindu and Muneeza is Muslim.
I loved this little book. It was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and it really is a little ray of sunshine. Varma has created a great character in Abir- hilarious, self-deprecating and sharp. Muneeza is adorable but a little remote; I would like to have had a little more from her point of view. I would love to see a sequel or even a whole series of books with these two, teaming up to uncover corruption or whatever in modern-day Mumbai. At the very least, I hope we see more from Varma, hopefully in the form of a U.S. release of this book or his next. (Sadly this book is not available in the United States!) If this book is sold where you live, I strongly advise you to pick up this wonderfully charming love story.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.