The Book Hunters of Katpadi
For a genuine bibliophile or book collector, the world Sebastian creates is a slice of paradise….
In The Book Hunters of Katpadi, author Pradeep Sebastian imagines an India where not just a handful of readers and publishers are obsessed with the bound and printed word, but also a legion of typesetters, printers, booksellers and book collectors. In this utopia, the passionate bibliophiles meet regularly to discuss the physical book as a form of art and go to any lengths to outbid each other at thronging auctions of rare first editions.
This fantastical Chennai makes a terrific setting for a promising debut billed as India's first "biblio-mystery"-a genre made famous in recent years by novels like Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Carlos Ruis Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind.
When the two women who own Biblio, an antiquarian bookshop in Chennai, learn that some rare documents about Sir Francis Richard Burton, the British explorer and writer, have been discovered, it touches off a search for the controversial and coveted "Karachi Papers"-lost documents believed to hold the key to the mystery behind Burton's disgrace and sudden departure from India.
The search is captivating, and Sebastian's passion about books and book collecting is evident on every page. He explores each aspect of the physical book in detail, offering little stories and anecdotes to make them appealing.
For a genuine bibliophile or book collector, the world Sebastian creates is a slice of paradise. The descriptions of cosy little antiquarian bookshops and private libraries are beyond beautiful, and Sebastian somehow manages to make them seem convincing in the Indian context. Sadly, the plot falters in the middle, but a final twist makes up for the lapse.
Courtesy: INDIA TODAY