Em and the Big Hoom- Book Review

This is the title of a book by Jerry Pinto. His earlier book I had read was a biography of dancer Helen. This one is a novel set in Mumbai, about a boy and his Mom and Dad (known as Em and Big Hoom respectively).

It is an unusual tale, because very quickly, you learn that the Mom, Em, is suffering from a mental disorder variously named schizophrenia, ....depending on the doctor treating her, and has fits of normality, being abnormal most other times. But she is very witty, forthright (including on matters of sex), and a normal mother above all. It's a touching tale of an office romance (between Em and The Big Hoom) that blooms and matures thanks to a couple of older relatives (Em's), and their offspring (the narrator and his sister).

Otherwise a typical Catholic family in Mumbai with its ups and downs, nicely portrayed. There is a lot of humour to offset the dark parts. The bouts of mental illness and treatment and after-effects are heart-wrenching, and I don't recall reading anything like it before. A nice read, though repetitive at times in the middle. I was reminded of that novel by Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance) where he had portrayed a Parsi family very nicely.

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