The Cauliflower by Nicola Barker


Sometimes, you have to take a bow to the imagination of writers. Nicola Barker creates a fictional story around Shri Ramakrishna, the guru of Swami Vivekananda.

The Cauliflower is concerned with Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th-century Indian mystic, the kind of guru who hates being called a guru. A significant part of the narrative is told by his put-upon nephew Hriday, who has to deal with the day-to-day while uncle wrangles with the ineffable. It is a tug-of-war between epiphany and catastrophe, as Hriday tries to placate his uncle’s benefactors, while protecting him from various enthusiasts, just as his uncle decides to glean more of the goddess Kali’s wisdom by trying to live as a monkey, or converting to Islam, or eating semolina puddings.

The complete book review

The Guardian — Stuart Kelly

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