Friday, January 25, 2013

All About H. Hatterr by G.V. Desani

First further revised printing of All About H. Hatterr from 1970
First published in England in 1948, Pakistani author G.V. Desani's only novel remains a strange, whimsical masterpiece following the title character's journey toward spiritual mastery and enlightenment. Hatterr, an Anglo-Malay living in Calcutta, seeks out seven different Sages in seven cities of the Far East to obtain their wisdom in various areas of living. Each section begins with Hatterr recounting the Sage's "instruction," then the "presumption" about the instruction, and concludes with Hatterr's "life-encounter" about the lesson wherein some hilarity and absurdities ensue. All About H. Hatterr has been praised by literary luminaries like Anthony Burgess (who wrote the introduction for this edition), Saul Bellow, and T.S. Eliot, all of whom regard Desani's only novel as an amazing comic and linguistic feat—which it definitely is. Desani's novel is filled with bizarre and unique slang, hilarious dialogue, and excellent wordplay that makes fun of anything close to a spiritual quest. The Sages, various tricksters, and other travelers Hatterr encounters are particularly ridiculous, and are some of the book's funniest moments. With excellent jacket design by Catherine Smolich for this edition published by FSG, All About H. Hatterr is a great, entertaining book that has somehow fallen through a lot of cracks, but definitely deserves to be read.

Rear cover with photograph of author G.V. Desani

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