Assessment: Harry Potter and a thinker’s tome

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Keshava Guha’s debut novel ponders Harry Potter fandom, however is mild on geeky delights.

Unintended Magic by Keshava Guha
HarperCollins India Rs 599; 252 pages

Since Harry Potter debuted in 1997, books, movies and fan materials associated to J.Ok. Rowling’s novels have proliferated quicker than cursed objects in a vault at Gringotts. There are educational treatises, pop literary analyses and, after all, numerous works of fan fiction. It was solely a matter of time earlier than somebody wrote a novel in regards to the phenomenon and the fandom itself, and the premise of Keshava Guha’s Unintended Magic-four followers drawn collectively by means of Potter-is ripe with risk and likewise brilliantly saleable.

There’s the protagonist Kannan who, like Harry, travels removed from residence (Bengaluru) for varsity (Boston), however is a passive anti-hero who takes initiative solely not often and abortively. His solely pal is Curtis Grimmett, an older white liberal radio host who fetishises England. Privileged younger Harvard graduate Rebecca seems like a literary successor to varied white ladies who’ve populated the pages of Indian male writers earlier than Guha. Malathi, a fan from Madras, is probably probably the most fascinating character however tends to perform extra as a plot system; her arc turns into secondary to Kannan’s and is, sadly, left undeveloped.

Unintended Magic throws again to the ‘three-year summer time’, when followers stuffed the void between books 4 and 5 with their very own writing and hypothesis. Guha alludes to actual websites and controversies with small particulars and names modified. However as a love-letter to fandom, his e-book falls wanting capturing the geeky delight of the entire endeavour, favouring a extra cerebral method to its characters and themes.

The quantity of research feels disproportionate to the throes of early-middle fandom. Kannan posts on-line “a idea of Harry Potter during which J.Ok. Rowling was not the final phrase however merely the firstthe surprise of fandom, and of fan fiction specifically was of a universe in perpetual growth”, laying out “as nobody had ever accomplished that he had seen, what it was they may all be doing”. This feels extra in step with the way in which critics write about mature fandoms now by means of a nostalgic lens on notable anniversaries.

Unintended Magic is an intriguing crossover between a late 20th century immigrant novel and a Harry Potter meta essay. However regardless of memorable characters, probably tense plotlines, and honest makes an attempt at grappling with concepts about race and nationality, it grinds alongside in first gear, at occasions jarring over lengthy, pontificating sentences that hinder narrative fluidity and determination. “I want to respect the thriller of it,” Grimmett says of his relationship with Kannan. However Unintended Magic might have been much less imperturbable with no need to spell every little thing out.

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