Author(s): Jerry Pinto
Brilliantly comic and almost unbearably moving, Jerry Pinto's Em and the Big Hoom is one of the most powerful and original fiction debuts of recent years. She was always Em to us. There may have been a time when we called her something ordinary like Mummy, or Ma, but I don't remember. She was Em, and our father, sometimes, was the Big Hoom. In a tiny flat in Bombay Imelda Mendes - Em to her children - holds her family in thrall with her flamboyance, her manic affection and her cruel candour. Her husband - to whom she was once 'Buttercup' - and her two children must bear her 'microweathers', her swings from laugh-out-loud joy to dark malevolence. In Em and the Big Hoom, the son begins to unravel the story of his parents: the mother he loves and hates in the same moment and the unusual man who courted, married and protected her - as much from herself as from the world. "It is utterly persuasive and deeply affecting: stylistically adventurous it is never self-indulgent; although suffused with pain it shows no trace of self-pity. Parts of it are extremely funny, and its pages are filled with endearing and eccentric characters". (Amitav Ghosh). "Pinto chases the elusive portrait of a mother who simply said of herself that she was mad. As I read this novel, that also portrays a very tender marriage and the life of a Goan family in Bombay, it drowned me. I mean that in the best way. It plunged me into a world so vivid and capricious, that when I finished, I found something had shifted and changed within myself. This is a world of magnified and dark emotion. The anger is a primal force, the sadness wild and raw. Against this, the jokes are hilarious, reckless, free falling...This is a rare, brilliant book, one that is wonderfully different from any other that I have read coming out of India". (Kiran Desai). "A child's-eye view of madness and sorrow, full of love, pain, and, unaccountably, much wild comedy. One of the very best books to come out of India in a long, long time". (Salman Rushdie). Jerry Pinto has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian and journalist and is now associated with MelJol, an NGO that works in the sphere of child rights. He has edited several anthologies including, most recently, an anthology on his native city, Mumbai.
The anger is a primal force, the sadness wild and raw. Against this, the jokes are hilarious, reckless, free falling ... This is a rare, brilliant book, one that is wonderfully different from any other that I have read coming out of India -- Kiran Desai Extremely funny, and its pages are filled with endearing and eccentric characters. Em and The Big Hoom is a profoundly moving book -- Amitav Ghosh A delightful debut ... Written with genuine compassion and sincerity, while a sprinkling of black humour ensures it is never overly sentimental Financial Times A near-perfect account of a psychologically troubled mother and the shockwaves felt by her family. Rich and beguiling ... Within sentences of this touching, funny and calmly shocking narrative, their son makes it clear that he knows about the things that really matter Irish Times Jerry Pinto's prose is lively and incisive ... moments of great humour here as well as moments of tenderness and poignancy Herald Pinto's written a novel that perhaps uniquely breaks free from India's historic, cacophonous clamour Metro
Jerry Pinto lives and works in Mumbai. He has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian, journalist and columnist. He is now associated with MelJol, an NGO that works in the sphere of child rights. His published works include a book of poems, Asylum, and Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, which won the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2007. Em and The Big Hoom is his first novel.