the cauliflower by nicola barker

The Cauliflower by Nicola Barker

Sri Ramakrishna is a guru, perhaps godly and wise or maybe just desperate and crazy. Hriday, the guru’s caretaker, seems to think the latter but insists his uncle is the former – convincing the reader this story is really worth listening to.

I’m not so certain. Barker’s new novel has multiple narrators and shifts randomly through the latter years of the nineteenth century. I was reminded a little bit of Salman Rushdie, probably for the Indian context and a little less for the stylistic devices.

I wasn’t bored reading about the life of Sri Ramakrishna and his devotees, but I won’t say I was entertained either. I slipped in and out of focus, which is partially my own fault as a poor reader, but I’ll argue Barker’s constant switch of time, place, and prose to poetry left me unable to immerse. If I hadn’t been reading it for LibraryThing, I may not have finished. That’s rare for me, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in any character or plot to care.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. But I’d rather just read a biography of Sri Ramakrishna and keep the fiction for something else.

I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for a review.