Having just read Kunzru’s new novel, My Revolutions, I was looking forward to this story. Not that I loved the novel (a story for another post), but I did want to see more of his work. And I liked this story well enough. It disappointed me in the end, and the beginning was weak, but the middle was solid and compelling. The narrator is part of a privileged, international crowd. The story doesn’t say where, I think, but it seems to be in London. His friends are hip and fashionable and unemployed and they go clubbing and have odd parties. Kunzru sets this environment up brilliantly (and the contrast with the recent novel couldn’t be greater). The narrator begins a fling with Thanh that neither takes seriously. And then the narrator discovers that Raj, whom he knows through his friend Sunita, has used their crowd as a “placement” for a new brand of vodka (by talking it up at a party and then snapping pictures of this hip crowd drinking the stuff). No one else seems to care, but the narrator is incensed. He then notices that everyone is pushing something. The reader has the sense that he is just paranoid and maybe losing his mind. But is he? To this point and well into the climactic scene with his new friend Zoe, the story is fun. But armed with new information he tracks down Raj to confront him, and the final scene is where I lose interest and the narrator as a character dissolves into a joke with a weak punchline.
March 10, 2008: “Raj, Bohemian” by Hari Kunzru