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Review of The Boyfriend by R. Raj Rao

September 10, 2017

Review of The Boyfriend by R. Raj Rao

Reviewed by Fiza Pathan


I have been wanting to read this book in a long while. I managed to do so last week, and I finished it in the early hours of September 7. R. Raj Rao is a blessing for readers who love cynicism and wry humour in their LGBTQ literature. I had a fun time with a lot of laughs reading this book, which describes the love story of a middle-aged Yudi and his young lover Milind. The book is easy to read, and flows beautifully into the reader’s system just like an R. K. Narayan novel, only a bit bolder. If you want to get a closer look at the Gay scene in Mumbai, during the 1990’s, and how difficult it was to pick up lovers for quick sex at that point of time, this book is a tongue-in-cheek revelation into that area of study. If you want to read a well written Indian LGBTQ book, then this is the one for you, and believe me you will have a lot of laughs as you turn from page to page. However, don’t be fooled by the brash and unashamed humour of the author, because The Boyfriend also speaks about the pulse of Mumbai through the eyes of a Gay man, a very novel way to look at Mumbai in the early 1990’s. There is mention here of the 1992-93 riots for those readers who wish to know how Gay life was affected during those horrible months of murder, carnage, and destruction. R. Raj Rao style of writing equals, if not surpasses, the likes of the best Indian narrative writers of the late 1990’s and early 2000. Once you are done with this book, you will definitely want to read more books penned by the author. It is a guaranteed addiction. Unfortunately, R. Raj Rao has only written two more novels after The BoyfriendHostel Room 131 and Lady Lolita’s Lover. I have already read Hostel Room 131 which is funnier and yet informative about the LGBTQ scene in the 70’s and 80’s. If you as a reader are up for a mellowed down Mumbai, erstwhile Bombay, city adventure, then this is the book for you. The plot is unique, the narrative exemplary yet written in simple language, and the characters in the story are few, but well developed. The line or border line between pathos and humour is so thin in this novel, that if it were not for the author’s excellent sense of humour in his writings, this book would have deviated towards the pathos angle, making the story of Milind, Yudi, Gauri and Dnyaneshwar, a tragedy of sorts. Just get this book and read it. Then buy the other two novels of R. Raj Rao and read them. You will be surprised by the way you will sink into the books like quicksand. Happy Reading.

Copyright © 2017 Fiza Pathan

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