Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word promised to be “mischievous, wickedly funny, and intellectually deft,” none of which it delivered until one scene three chapters from the end. Kureishi is an award winning author and this was supposedly his best. If that is true, I would not waste time with the others.
Mamoon, an aging Indian writer whose career is tapering out, has his biography written by young artist Harry. The stakes are high and this biography can seal the fate of both, so Harry heads to India to write. For starters, I couldn’t even tell it 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 something difficult for most authors. The characters, especially the women, were not true to themselves all the way through. It seemed as though he forgot which woman he was writing about, making them blend together.
However, that’s not to say I did not like any of the characters. There was one, Marion, I was fascinated by. She knew what Mamoon did to the girls he was with, having fallen prey to him herself. She was the only character I felt I actually knew, despite only having one chapter dedicated to her. There was not much motivating me to turn the pages or to pick the book back up. It was probably because some reviews rated it five stars and I wanted to know why.
There are massive lulls in the plot and then a chapter or two that were captivating. These happened mainly when Harry was nowhere near Mamoon or India. The plot moved forward at a steady place until the last couple chapters. Then it was like a whirlwind, and every chapter happened months apart which would leave some readers confused. The plot and characters were not captivating enough for me to give it more than 2 stars.
Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for giving me an advanced reader’s copy to review.