Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ruskin Bond

Recently, a friend gave me two of Ruskin Bond's books: The Room on the Roof and Vagrants in the Valley. I'd heard a lot about this Indian author of British descent, how he wrote his first novel (The Room on the Roof) at 17 years of age, how he won the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize that is awarded to British Commonwealth Writers who are under the age of 30 because of it, how his style is "simple and elegant"...but never did make the effort to read anything by him, until now.

Honestly, I don't know just what I think of his writing style. On one hand, his imagery is amazing. His opening lines of The Room on the Roof are:

The light spring rain rode on the wind, into the trees, down the road;it brought an exhilarating freshness to the air, a smell of earth, a scent of flowers; it brought a smile to eyes of the boy on the road.

His words and poetic sentences make it easy to imagine what's going on. On the other hand, I prefer hardcore realistic scenarios to ones that seem derived from a fairy tale. Yes, I know I'm a big fan of fantasy, which, to some of you raising your eyebrows at me right now is probably pretty close to 'fairy tales', yet the fantasy stories I like are the ones in which the characters are very real and three-dimensional. Apart from the fact that some of them can smite demons in the blink of an eye, control storms and/or grant boons. But they bleed like the rest of us, which is what counts.

Granted, I've only read the two books I mentioned above, which are about a 16 year old orphan named Rusty. The interactions between Rusty and his best friend are a bit too mushy for my taste. They're like brothers, and hold each other while sleeping, cry on each other quite often, and talk about romantic things like the moon - not really something I can easily picture 16 year old boys doing, since when I think '16' I think of my teenaged cousins, who would hate to be hugged so much and would probably decapitate me if I talked about how beautiful the sunrise is. Rusty also fancies his friend's mother, which isn't an unusual thing in itself, but his affections are returned and not only that, his friend is fine with it. This all sounds perfectly alright when I'm writing it out like this, but the flowery words make it sound unrealistic and dreamy.

Not that I didn't enjoy the books. I did, once I finally understood the writing style and accepted it. In fact, I'd recommend them to people who enjoy light reading as a break from real life stresses or to people who like to experiment by reading different styles, but he's not one of my favourite authors, even though some say he's the Indian Wordsworth, and there are thousands of people who hang on every word of his. Perhaps I'll change my mind if I read a few more of his works...

I do want to read one more book of his: Susanna's Seven Husbands. It's apparently about a woman who kills her first 6 husbands. Again, it doesn't sound realistic, but I'm quite curious to see how Bond has applied his characteristic light, poetic writing style to a story that sounds so intense. It was recently adapted to the Indian big screen in the form of 7 Khoon Maaf. I plan on watching that as well. 

What I'd really like to know is: Have you ever read anything by Ruskin Bond? If so, what did you read, and what do you think of it?

Linkity link links!
Wiki article


  1. I haven't read anything by him, as a matter of fact, it's the first time I heard about this guy. The first few sentences you posted don't really appeal to me, lol. I always have a very hard time chewing through the "poetic" stuff. I prefer the realistic and sometimes even the rough. Life is life and there's only a little fun about it.

  2. I feel pretty much the same way as you do. This is why I fret over my own characters and story plots. I constantly fear they aren't 'real' enough.

  3. On the regular work day, when i try to attend the next chapter , I quite feel the same, however I did notice that on the good weekend mornings it did really make me feel closer to nature!!

  4. Yes, one definitely has to be in the mood for it! And when one is, the poetic style does make one feel close to nature. Thanks for stopping by!