Days of our Lives!

October 16, 2012

Book Review: Following Fish – Samanth Subramanian

Filed under: Books,Travels — Santhosh @ 7:14 PM

Book:  Following Fish: Travels Around The Indian Coast
Author: Samanth Subramanian
Genre: Travel, Food, Culture

I’m a fan of narrative journalism and Samanth Subramanian’s Following Fish is an excellent example of such long-form writing as he weaves a beautiful, eidetic narrative about the Neithal hinterlands. As much as this book is about the karimeen and the hilsa, it’s also very much about communities, cultures, histories, tales, recipes, social commentaries, fishing, boats, travel, and people. I had picked up the book expecting it to be a travelogue through some of coastal India. There is however a larger theme to the book as Samanth explores each place he visits and speaks to us from research, experience and the voices of the locals.
I loved Samanth’s vividly descriptive writing that ensures your vicarious presence as you taste the hilsa in a roadside shack in Kolkata’s Diamond Harbour, feel the alive fish wriggle down your throat as you hope for your asthmatic cure in Hyderabad, speak about the challenges to belief and tradition with the last surviving jati thalaivan of the Paravas of Manapadu with some fish podi and Portugese culture thrown in, embark on an odyssey through southern Kerala’s toddy shops in search of the perfect pungent karimeen, stroll lazily dreaming about rawa fry and Mangalorean meen curry, set out on an Enid Blyton approved fishing trip ‘in search of the fastest fish in the ocean’ in the place-that-shall-not-be-named Xanadu, reminisce wistfully about a sepia-tinted romantic pre-tourist Goa of after-school fishing, take a walk down history with the mill workers of Bombay, and spend some days in the fishing-boat building towns of Mangrol and Veraval in lower Gujarat.
One of those delightfully perfect Sunday afternoon reads!
My Rating: 5/5


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