Review : Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal

October 27, 2013

Author: Tarun Tejpal
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2006
ISBN: 9780060888589
Rating: ★★★★½
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Before Fifty Shades of Grey, there was the Alchemy of Desire: a fiery, explicit, no-holds-barred literary novel by the Tehelka man, Tarun Tejpal. A bold, fulfilling read from the man who has come to define journalistic courage.

An unnamed narrator aspires to become a writer.  He is a storyteller to his wife- Fizz. Fizz is very much a part of him. The narrator is lost and drenched in her love. She becomes one of the reasons for him to pick up his brother – the typewriter, inspired enough to type a story. Can love consume one so much that you start questioning its longing inside, that you need an inspiration to get that love back?

You can’t get enough of Alchemy of Desire. Reading becomes like a journey just as you explore the madness of love. Only this book taught me that reading is a voyage. The more you read, the more different shades of the pages are revealed.

“Who can ever hold the essence of fire? Who can ever know the Alchemy of Desire?”

There are too many things about the book that fascinated me in lots of ways, like the philosophical division of the book into five parts – Prema (love), Karma (action), Artha (money), Kama (desire) and Satya (truth). Each part leads to another with the flow of connecting flashbacks of events between the narrator and his wife. Another most captivating ingredient is the experimentation of events from the different times.

First half of the book covers the places, decisions and narrator’s struggling years as a writer in Delhi. The later part flows down to the house that the couple buys in Nanital; Gethia.Here the description, their journey as a couple and narrator’s perspective with the minutest details of old events and of a new emerging India is breathtaking. It may get a little nostalgic with the mentioning of old Delhi charm, especially for those who are familiar with the city.

At Kama (desire), narrator finds an answer, a reason to write. It begins from the discovery of diaries written by the haunting persona of late Catherine, an American in love with India with her colonial story. It is at this point, unknown to narrator, that the digging of somebody’s past through the diaries, which starts working like a hypnotizing element in his life, affects not only his desires but also his relationship with his wife – Fizz.

Written by Tarun Tejpal, man with an uncompromising style of journalism. Even though Tarun’s first attempt as a writer did not get much publicity, his exemplary work as an editor and a publisher is enough for all book lovers to pick up this piece without a doubt. Don’t be judgmental with this book. It’s a pool of overwhelming emotions of obsession, addiction and desire.   Tarun is nothing but a craftsman who has created a beautiful novel on complications of human affections. Throughout, it reveals Tejpal’s eye for characterization and description. The story is bold but not obscene. One needs to have a beautiful mind to understand his writing.

Related Links –

Official Website – Tarun Tejpal
Walk the talk with Tejpal

Charu Sharma

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Books and writing take me to my Neverland. I want to drown into the creations of music-art-literature. I prefer the company of Books than people- That's cynical me!

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