Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
Review by M (adult fiction)
Em and the Big Hoom features the most scintillating dialogue and moves at a pace that had me happily clambering.
Em and the Big Hoom is a novel (which makes it fiction?), though it reads very much like an entertaining yet deeply heartfelt memoir. This is a novel about mental illness. I’m not sure I’ve read many of these for fear of them being drearily and saddeningly depressing. Em and the Big Hoom is not like that. It truly is a….riot!
Written from the young adult son’s perspective, he presents a story which is both a celebration of his mother, Imelda’s infuriating mad life and an attempt to understand both her and her relationship with his father. Among other names, his parents are known as Em and the Big Hoom – I love that!
Variably diagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, Em just accepts herself as mad, and everyone around her just goes up and down with her. It’s a vibrant but rough ride for everyone, but particularly full of laughs for the reader.
The novel is set in 1960s Bombay, India and the family are anglophile Catholics. These add a colourful and engaging context to the story.
Publication details: Viking (Penguin), May 2014, London, hardbackThis edition: digital review copy from the publisher