Chinaman : The Legend of Pradeep Mathew – Shehan Karunatilaka


I read through the book in one go. The last time I did this was with the book on the Martina – Chris rivalry, about 2 years back.

I just could not stop turning the pages of this one, even when it was not night anymore, and even when the Hyderabad heat streamed through from the outside.

Unfortunately, there have not been much sports-based fiction written. What you get are almost biographies, analysis or semi-travelogues. Not that I dislike them… I am a sucker for anything based on sport… but the fiction pieces do have a … what’s the right word here… directness(?) / anger(?) / terseness(?) that the realistic bounds of the fact-based books cannot capture (ps. I thank the stars that Mati Nandi wrote in Bangla).

And here’s one of the highest order. The books I enjoy the most are the ones that tell more than one story. And this is one of those kinds. And Shehan Karunakilaka weaves them all in this wondrous maze of a book. He has a lightness of touch, one that you will come to realise only after you have finished the book. He is able to say a lot of rather pithy things in the garb of humour.

You have read the gushing reviews; you have heard the whispers that this is a must-read. Let me do my bit of gushing to add on to all that. This is a must-read. One of the best sports-based books I have read in a while.

Here’s a proper – and fine – book review – on ESPNcricinfo.

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