It’s time for me to talk about my utterly meaningless and completely subjective rankings of the recent books I’ve read from the Time list.
If you’re new to the blog, this is a little exercise I do after every five novels. It allows me to explain why I ranked each novel where I did, with the understanding that, ultimately, ranking a list of novels like this is a pretty pointless endeavor. But I do it anyway, ’cause it’s fun.
So let’s take a look at the last 5 novels.
I expected to like this book more than I did.
I love the idea behind it. In the middle of the British occupation of India during the early 20th century, an Indian doctor is wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a British woman.
All hell breaks loose when the doctor goes on trial and the woman begins doubting her story. It’s a powerful novel that deals with issues of racism, class, and groupthink. Forster is a superb writer.
All of these things made me think I would, more than likely, love A Passage To India by the time I finished with it. But I don’t.
If I rated these novels on a scale of 1 to 10, then I would probably put it somewhere in the 5 to 6 range. At times, it moved me. At other times, I drifted off into wondering if I had set my fantasy football rosters yet.
The problem with A Passage To India, as I see it: It’s painfully slow. The pacing of the novel is brutal.
So, by the time I finished the book, I felt like I had read a 500 page novel that should have been 300 pages but felt like it was about 700 pages.
That’s my main beef with this novel.
It’s hard for me to think that, just 50 years ago, in the decade prior to the one in which I was born, America was segregated. “Separate but equal” laws were prevalent all over the U.S., but especially in the south.
I don’t get racism. The foundations of my faith are based on the premise that someone greater than us created us all equal. The fact that, since the beginning of time, racism has popped its ugly head up all over the world, in all types of races and cultures, just doesn’t make sense to me.
As an American, I’m used to reading about racism within our country over the last century. It always makes me cringe, but it’s nothing new.
However, I haven’t read a lot about racism in other parts of the globe, and that’s what keeps A Passage To India interesting to me.
A Passage To India was written in 1924. It’s the oldest book included on the Time list.
One of the problems with reading a book that old, especially a novel that has historical context, is that you need to do a little extra research if you want to understand the time in which the novel is set.
That’s especially true with A Passage To India. E.M. Forster’s novel is set during the British occupation of India, which lasted from 1858 until 1947. Forster was really ahead of his time in dealing with issues of racism and cultural bias.
I don’t watch a lot of movies.
I don’t dislike movies. But when I have a few free hours, I like to spend it in other ways. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see, like The Great Gatsby a few months ago, I tend to get bored too easily. That’s just me.
So I’m not one of those guys who watches the Academy Awards every year. In fact, I’m not sure I could give you more than two or three films that have won the Oscars off the top of my head. I just don’t keep up with it.
So it’s not surprising that I didn’t even know A Passage To India was a movie—and it’s even less surprising that I don’t remotely pretend to know that said movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director in 1984.
How many fictional characters in novels are based on real people?
I’d guess that it’s a large majority. I’ve never written a novel, so that’s just a hunch. Even if it’s just abstract or on a subconscious level, I think a lot of authors pull from their own experiences with other people when creating characters.
When The Paris Review interviewed E.M. Forster, author of A Passage To India, he said as much.
I’ve never read A Passage To India. But, after reading the premise of the novel, it sounds like what you might get if you moved the plot of To Kill A Mockingbird to India.
An Englishwoman accuses a well-respected Indian doctor of assaulting her, and all hell breaks loose. The racial tension between the English, who have recently occupied India, and the Indian residents.
Sounds like an intriguing book.
Here are some quick facts about A Passage To India and E.M. Forster:
I always try and keep you guys posted on what I’m reading ahead of time. That way, you can read along with me if you choose to.
When I finish with this next round of 5 novels, the 101 Books project will basically be two-thirds of the way complete. That’s insane! I can’t believe it.
You already know about A Death In The Family, as I previewed it last week. But here are the other four novels that are on the way–in no particular order.