|About the Book|
Facebook, the first novel of Madhupal attracted me mainly for its narrative style. While the modern and the postmodern English fiction is rich with varieties of content, theme, characterization and new discoveries in styles, I have always felt the lack of experiments in structure or style in the Malayalam writings till date.For a good example from English literature, there is Italo Calvinos If on a winters night a traveller that mixes up as alternate chapters, the process of reading the novel and the broken-off first chapters of ten different novels. The odd- numbered chapters mould the reader well for the next chapter experience. The even- numbered become the story itself. In the end we find the cohesion between both the streams and also between the sections in a single stream. Similarly there is Tristram Shandy in which Laurence Sterne breaks up all concepts of time, sentence length, punctuation, linear structure etc and he seems to run zig- zag through every element of it. At times, we can see the run to the past, then to the future, then again to past and to the present and so on, some other times, we see blank pages left in between and also we get surprised with the play with dashes. The stream of consciousness novels too are based on the simple logic that if we ought to represent a characters five minutes, it shouldnt be only about his actions, but it is also about the five minutes of random unrelated thoughts coming as a stream to his mind. If an author writes about those five minutes, those thoughts too should not be avoided from the narration, like what is well illustrated in James Joyces classic Ulysses.I referred to all this just to show that there are polar varieties with style and technique in English literature, when that was not much seen in Malayalam writings which still focus on the novelty of theme or content than the formal techniques. Facebook, thus came as a surprise for me with a new technique of narration. Interestingly the task of mixing up an old process of story, a new style of narration and todays trend as facebook makes Facebook a cherishable read. At times, you may get confused, you may turn back to pages or to introduction of particular characters, but everything is logical in Facebook. The starting pages of just a plain narration never gives us a thought that the later pages would contrast with the expectation that gets built up in every mind. The actual story of the novel starts, proceeds and ends with facebook notes, likes, messages and comments which builds up the narrative cohesion. The main characters of the story, Navin Lopez and Veena Sukumaran become so familiar to a reader atleast by the middle pages, and we really can predict what they do in particular situations, why do they say some particular dialogues, what all were their thoughts to say so etc. Once I finished reading it, every comment, status, message and a note in facebook were seen to me as having some linear story on the other side where the writers become the characters of a fiction about them. I call it influence of a work in a readers mind- a strong imprint or impression.Madhupal should be applauded for this invention of technique and for one other factor that goes to a bit biographical level. Madhupal, being a man could write different voices of women with different variations of each of their emotions. Not even a single word stands odd anywhere. I felt as if it was some woman writer who had written it. The hard task of getting deep into a womans mind, that too not a single one, seems to have got done with much ease! A male writers biggest difficulty was easily solved as if it was not a big one for him. Altogether, you will never regret the time that you spend for reading Facebook as a book of faces and its phases. Well done, Madhupal.