Kunzru, Hari Transmission

ISBN 13: 9780141008295

Transmission

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9780141008295: Transmission

Hari Kunzru's Transmission is a witty novel about cyberspace, a Bollywood dancer and a world where everyone is connected.

It's the twenty-first century, and everything and everyone is connected.

Meet Arjun Mehta, an Indian cybergeek catapulted into California's spiralling hi-tech sector; Leela Zahir, beguiling Bollywood actress filming in the midge-infested Scottish wilds; and Guy Swift, hyped-up marketing exec lost in a blue-sky tomorrow of his own devising. Three dislocated individuals seeking nodes of connectivity - a place to fit in. Yet this is the twenty-first century, and their lives are about to become unexpectedly entangled as a virus spreads, and all their futures are rewired. But will it take them further from their dreams, or closer to their hearts?

'An aphoristic joke, a neat turn of phrase; a joke that makes you laugh . . . there's nothing Kunzru couldn't manage in prose. Thoroughly engrossing' Literary Review

'Funny, heartfelt and beautifully written, confirms Kunzru as one of the most talented writers of his generation' Image

'Very enjoyable, I couldn't put it down. Funny and wry; it is deftly plotted; its characters intimately drawn. Blissful' Observer

'Utterly affecting, a novel with devastating satirical bite' Financial Times

Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions and Gods Without Men, and the story collection Noise. He lives in New York.

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Review:

Transmission is Hari Kunzru's second novel and, in a similar vein to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, the title is instructive; it's figuratively and literally, the book's pulsing leitmotif. To transmit is, by definition, to "send across", and the migration of information and people, the destruction and the erection of borders in our hi-tech, supposedly global village, (a world where Indian graduates gain Australian accents working in local call centres) is what this novel is all about. Although to be clear, that's an "all about" in much the way that Jonathan Coe's What A Carve Up! was "all about" the Thatcherite 1980s; narrative invention, humour and satire form essential components of Kunzru's prodigious literary arsenal. (No prizes for guessing who Gavin Burger, an incomprehensively verbose US presidential spokesman who puts in a fleeting comic turn, could be modelled on.)

Leaving aside the broader forces of globalisation, Kunzru's chief dramatic agent is a computer virus that meshes together the lives of his main characters: Arjun Mehta, a sexually-naïve Indian programmer working in America who unleashes the contagion; Leela Zahir, a Bollywood actress whose image the bug zooms across the globe and Guy Swift, head of Tomorrow, a Shoreditch-based consultancy whose ongoing quest to harness the "emotional magma that wells from the core of planet brand", becomes somewhat nobbled in the immediate technological fallout. Of his cast, not unsurprisingly Guy comes closest to caricature (though his scheme to rebrand European border police as Ministry of Sound-style nightclub bouncers--"Europe: No Jeans, No Trainers"--sounds alarming believable). But then Guy's is the incarnate of the worst, Panglossian traits of the West in this callow information age. His certainty and self-absorbed fecklessness (which thankfully he does eventually suffer, horribly for) contrasts jarringly with poor, Mehta, whose American dreams tip, all too swiftly into nightmare. --Travis Elborough

About the Author:

Hari Kunzru was born in 1969 and lives in east London. His first novel, The Impressionist, was the winner of the Betty Trask Prize 2002, and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Whitbread First Novel Award. Hari Kunzru was named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists, 2003.

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