Monday, March 24, 2014

Em and the Big Hoom – Jerry Pinto

What is the book about?
At the heart of the story, is the quirky, irrverently funny Imelda Mendes, also called Em, who is also suicidal when in the throes of bipolar disorder. Her husband, Augustine, also called the big Hoom, is the bulwark of the family. The children - Susan and the narrator son, who stays largely unnamed – are given free access to their beloved Em's letters and diaries wherein we discover more of her story, particularly preceding and following her falling in love with Augustine. Somewhere in the midst of Em's flurry of words and the big Hoom's quiet presence, we sense the deep love and regard they have for each other.
Who is it by?
Jerry Pinto is a poet, writer and journalist, and has edited several anthologies of essays and poems. He is especially known his pieces on Bollywood and his book, Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, that studies the roles played by Bollywood actor Helen to draw a study of morality and sexuality, particularly in the 1960s, as perceived in Indian cinema and society.
Why should I read it?
This defining account of mental illness in a family, is written with such lucidity, humour and great affection that it could only come from a deeply personal space. 

An edited version appeared in the September 2012 Issue of Culturama

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