Indian Nocturne by Antonio Tabucchi
Indian Nocturne follows a nameless man as he searches for his lost friend Xavier among the squalid streets and luxury hotels of India. At just over a hundred pages it is more a novella than a novel but not a single word is wasted. With minimal description Tabucchi calmly and precisely depicts the abject poverty present in the country's hospitals, brothels and lodgings.
Cockroaches, disease and death are starkly contrasted by the gross opulence of the tourist hotels as he treads a very different path during the day to where he sleeps at night. The nameless man traces Xavier’s journey across India in order to seek information but those who once knew him – a doctor, a prostitute, the leader of a religious order – can only offer half memories to aid his search.
The sense of uncertainty is heightened by the narrative of an insomniac protagonist as he seamlessly drifts into dreams, blurring the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Indian Nocturne is not a book of action but of reflection. Each person encountered by the man adds to the philosophical thread of the narrative – questioning the reliability of memory, the nature of identity and the personal journey each individual takes through life. [Rowena McIntosh]