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  • Erik Mauritzson
  • Jeffrey B. Burton
  • E.L. Carter
  • David Freed
  • Kaushik Barua
  • Chris Knopf
  • Maria Flook
  • William Herrick

           

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Recent Reviews

No Direction Rome by Kaushik Barua

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The Bob Dylan documentary was titled “No Direction Home,” but Kaushik Barua’s No Direction Rome offers a place that’s never quite home to a character unsure of the home he wants--a character who fills his urban life with directionless distraction. Outwardly successful, Krantik has moved from India to work in Rome. He imagines a future planned by others, and interacts with others via conversation starters lacking a follow-through. With his mind filled to overflowing by incidental worries (mostly concerning bodily functions), he hides from the one, well-hinted worry that defines his future. The result is an internal monologue combining zany escapades, well-timed observations, and poignant loneliness--none of which are, ultimately, as directionless as they seem.

Krantik needs his job, but his job needs figures disguised to deceive. Krantik needs a future, but family plans might deceive his imagined choice. And he needs to recognize where he’s been, before he can know where he’s going. Readers see only glimpses of the path, frustrating perhaps, but satisfying with that sense of slowly slipping behind the disguise, seeing the truth behind imaginations of turtles (maybe lemmings) and their faithless god.

No Direction Rome is not an easy read. It’s odd and oddly disturbing at times. It’s deeply personal, addressing the reader as “you,” but equally impersonal, with the protagonist carefully measuring what he allows himself to see. Set in the mind of a well-placed immigrant, the novel takes Krantik along a directionless road to companionship, through suddenly zany detours or serious turns, hiding snippets of social commentary behind the humor, while offering telling details of a young, successful insider on the outside of his business and his city. 

“Fill me with numbers,” Krantik complains, later revealing the numbers and percentages of unhappy people wishing they were somewhere else. But numbers only define space and can’t fill it. Kaushik Barua’s novel reveals emptiness by filling it with jagged humor and poignancy, then drains it to an ending that doesn’t so much finish the story as reveal the light beneath. Here’s where the protagonist’s future begins, perhaps with a direction, and possibly even with a home in Rome. -Sheila's Reviews