In a text version, I could have imagined the accents that I knew as I read dialogue, and would have "silent-read" accents that I didn't. My own ignorance of specific accents would have been made irrelevant. In this audio version, the inappropriate accents for the characters were grating.
Descriptions of the travails of Biju, an illegal migrant worker in NewYork.
The performer Ms. Simhan is great in reproducing two of the needed accents: (1) the "convent-school" Indian English accent, and (2) the general expatriate "British"-ized Indian accent.Ms. Simhan is wildly inappropriate as she portrays other regional Indian accents. It seems quite inappropriate to use the educated and uneducated versions of the English accent as spoken by primary Tamil (bordering on Malayalam) speakers. When the dialogue is about Bengali-, Punjabi- and Hindi-speakers demonstrating petty regional arrogance and peeves, their regional accents for speaking English are appropriate for performance. For example in this story that happens with the Gorkha insurgency in the background, one of the characters peevishly complains about the insurgents insisting on the pronunciation "Gorkha" rather than "Gurkha". "Gurkha" is the word used by most non-Gorkha Indians, often pejoratively. The peevish statement needs to be pronounced with accuracy: to portray the mispronunciation in one regional Indian accent of another regional Indian word!There is some dialogue in Hindi - short sentences and exclamations. These are important in creating the atmosphere. Fragmentary Hindi is the Indian cosmopolitan official's partial condescension from English, never stooping to the local language. It is also the lingua franca of the non-English-fluent cosmopolitan Indian. The performer's Hindi pronunciations are either Tamil-Malayalam accented (that would be barely acceptable, if I imagined that the official was a transplant from the South) or sometimes just incorrect. The performer mispronounces Indian language words that are part of the narration (not the dialogue). I do not think that this is excusable. The Gorhka knife spelled "kukri" in English is better pronounced cook-ree and not cuck-ree.Some time ago I heard Rohinton Mistry's "Family Matters" performed by Martin Jarvis of Canada. I did not like it for the same reasons. I consoled myself that even in Canada, it may be difficult to get accent coaches. So that author could not perform a dialogue with Parsis and Marathis being dismissive of each other. I was hoping that Ms. Simhan, who is a person of Indian origin may have been able to draw on a deeper circle of Indian-origin acquaintances and get the many regional accents right. Not so. She only studied the accents of Tamil and/or Malayalam speakers.Never again. I will restrict my audible.com enjoyment to stories set in the US, Canada, Australia, and Britain. I will get audiobooks of stories set in India only if recorded by native Indian performers.
I will reserve judgment till I read the book in text.
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