Rohan Candappa

Read May-June, 2006

A memoir of growing up South Asian in England in the 1970s, Candappa's book begins with a nearly traumatic childhood encounter with a quite awful “curry” in school. Thirty-one years later, Candappa finds himself picking up a jar of ready-made curry in a supermarket. This leads him to an exploration of family, self and food.

This has a great deal of promise, and some of the execution is reasonable. But Candappa gives himself too much leeway (the cover blurb, which declares he has sold “over a million copies of his books”, may explain why he was given such a long leash), and the result is uneven. It presents an interesting snapshot of immigrant life in a turbulent and interesting time in Britain, and connects it with equally unique times in South Asia. His portrayal of family life is warm, and calls to mind some of the absolutely lovely preparations of Sri Lanka. But the book as a whole is too self-indulgent, too rambling, sometimes too boring, and overall therefore too forgettable.