Flipkart Official Review
The story starts and ends in a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen apartment in Mahim, Bombay. Imelda Mendes Em to her children (Em being Mother/Mom) keeps her family on its toes, with her humour, her candour, sometimes her love, her words and with her mental state of mind. The husband nurtures her and is there by her side, while the son and the daughter go through phases of happiness and sadness, so much so that they often wish to die.
The novel is narrated by the son as he makes sense of the unconditional love his father, The Big Hoom had for his mother, Em. Em and the Big Hoom speaks of love in a very different manner. For his first novel, Jerry Pinto has taken care not to make it clichd or for that matter sentimental, though it speaks of madness and disjointed family ties.
Jerry Pintos writing is frank and in-your-face. He does not mince words and that works wonderfully, thereby adding the much needed comic relief at times. For me more than Em, it was the Big Hooms character that added all the intrigue and empathy the silent rock in the background, always there and taking care of the family from falling apart. The past and the present (50s and the 80s), which add to the atmosphere of the book. Jerry Pinto sure has come a long way before writing this one and one can notice that in his reading.
Set in Bombay during the last decades of the twentieth century, Em and The Big Hoom tells the compelling story of the Mendeses mother, father, daughter and son. Between Em, the beedi - smoking, hyperactive mother, driven frequently to hospital by her mania and failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the rock-solid, dependable father, trying to hold things together as best he can, they are an extraordinary family.
Filled with endearing and eccentric characters, and marked by sparkling dialogue and restrained emotion, this is one of the most powerful and moving novels to be published in India in a long time.
About the Author
Jerry Pinto lives and works in Mumbai. He has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian, journalist and columnist. He is now associated with MelJol, an NGO that works in the sphere of child rights. His published works include Surviving Women; Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, which won the National Award for the Best Book on Cinema in 2007; and Bombay, Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai (co-edited with Naresh Fernandes). Em and The Big Hoom is his first novel.