“The Last Word”, by Hanif Kureishi, was promised by NetGallery.com to be “mischievous, wickedly funny, and intellectually deft,” none of which the book delivered until one scene, three chapters from the end. Kureishi is an award-winning author and this was supposedly his best work. If that is true, I would not waste time reading his other works.
Harry, a young artist, writes a biography about Mamoon, an aging Indian writer whose career is tapering out. The stakes are high and this biography can seal the fate of both men, so Harry heads to India to write.
For starters, I couldn’t even tell that the book was set in India and Britain; it could have been set anywhere in the world for all I knew. I actually did not realize Mamoon was Indian until halfway through the book.
I could tell from the synopsis this book was going to be character-driven, which is difficult for most authors to successfully do. The characters, especially the women, were not true to themselves all the way through. It seemed as though Kureishi forgot which woman he was writing about, which made them blend together.
Not to say I did not like any of the characters. I was fascinated by Marion. She knew what Mamoon did to the girls he was with, having fallen prey to him herself.
She was the only character who I felt I actually knew, despite the lack of chapters dedicated to her. There wasn’t much motivating me to turn the pages or pick the book back up. The only reason I completed reading the book was because some reviews had rated it five stars, and I wanted to know why.
There are massive lulls in the plot and only a chapter or two are captivating. The plot moved forward at a steady pace until the last few chapters. Then it was like a whirlwind, and every chapter happened months apart, which I imagine left some readers confused.
The plot and characters were not captivating enough for me to give it more than 2 stars.
Thanks to Scribner and NetGallery for sending an advanced copy for review.