Monday, June 11, 2018

The Book Hunters of Katpadi: A Bibliomystery by Pradeep Sebastian

Review by Anupama Chandra for Free Press Journal:
Columnist Pradeep Sebastian’s first novel, also purportedly India’s first bibliomystery (meaning a mystery involving the world of books), ‘The Book Hunters of Katpadi’ shows immense promise. Built around the peaceful setting of a Chennai-based store specialising in rare or antiquarian books called Biblio, and its amicable owner Neelambari Adigal (Neela) and her young associate Kayalveli Anbuchelvan (Kayal), this mystery has schools, children’s books, rare volumes, book collectors and sellers, book auctions and libraries galore.

The sole focus of the book is everything that goes into making books and some writers. There is nothing to entice the readers and, more essential to this book, scant characterisation whatsoever of even the key sellers and collectors. Even after reading the book thoroughly, you don’t know what made Neela and Kayal fall in love with books in the first place. In the last few chapters, you do get a rare glimpse at Neela’s journey to becoming an antiquarian book lover. A simple question such as why does a book collector collect a certain book is not addressed.

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