“Slow…” by Digonta Bordoloi is a novel that follows the story of a boy named Baba in India who appreciates life, nature and the world. As he says in the opening paragraph, “You could say I was slow; I would say I didn’t care keeping time.” Baba lived life at his own pace from day one.
I love reading books set in countries that I have never visited. It is like I am traveling to India and learning about the lifestyles, the culture, and all the customs from the comforts of home. Bordoloi generously peppers the text with foreign words, but they don’t distract, they make sense in the context and are a great addition to the story.
The novel is divided into three parts. The first part is written in short sections from the point of view of various characters. Baba, his mother, father, and brother among others all lend their voices to the story. This takes a little bit of getting used to as you learn the characters, but it becomes a natural shift quickly. The varied viewpoints show how each person sees the world.
Baba loves playing with his dog Lumba. His brother and friends are more scholarly, spending their time doing homework. His father’s job required the family to move every few years. Baba enjoys the change in scenery and the adventure of moving. Part One is the longest and most thorough section of the book. It gives a picture of life for this family up to the time Baba hits age 15.
Parts Two and Three take place after a big change in Baba’s life and the literary perspective also shifts from first person to third person. At this point Baba is no longer among the living. He is interacting with his family and friends from a state of limbo. Having passed over at such a young age he has a youthful view of the world and the way he sees his friends and family as they age.
I like that the focus is on building the characters in Part One. This gives the reader time to get invested in the lives of them all, so that when main character is no longer alive we still feel the connection he has to the others. “Slow…” by Digonta Bordoloi has a nice pace and is about life and death without being grim. What a great way to travel through India.