"In all India is no one so alone as I!"
Rudyard Kipling's Kim is the story of Kimball O'Hara, the orphaned son of an Irish soldier, who spends his childhood as a vagabond in Lahore. With an old Tibetan lama, he travels through India, enthralled by the "roaring whirl" of the landscape and cities of richly colored bazaars and immense diversity of people.
The novel is a masterpiece of careful organization and skillfully manipulated narrative techniques. By portraying Kim's utter devotion to the lama and his ability to share the life of the common people intimately and unselfconsciously, Kipling creates a vision of harmony - and of India - that unites the secular and the spiritual, the life of action with that of contemplation.
Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor
Authors I like: Patrick O'Brian, Frederick Forsyth, Jane Austen, John Le Carre, Alan Furst, Jon Krakauer, Ernest Hemingway.
I had never read or auditioned anything by Kipling before and my primary exposure to his body of work had been through children's stories, and those through film adaptations. I was drawn to "Kim" because of its role as an early espionage tale. Other than that, and the fact that it was set in India during the time of the British Empire, I really did not know what to expect.
"Kim" turns out to be a fantastically detailed and absorbing tale. An adage of creative writing is to use details to make a story come alive. "Kim" manages to be a veritable riot of narrative details, yet without it seeming studied or forced. Kipling rather seemed to have been simply observing carefully a land and a people ("peoples," really) rich in beauty, mystique, danger, and social complexity. All the elements of a great yarn are here: danger, love, ambition, intrigue, adventure, and so on, so it satisfies as mere genre fiction, but it is more than that. The characters in this novel grow and change, look inward and outward, think, fear, hope, laugh and cry, and we do all those things with them along the way. I was completely transported by it. I absolutely loved this book and was sorry when it ended.
The narration was equally superb. There are many characters of different cultures in the tale and Simon Vance brought each of them alive. The whole thing is just splendid.
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