Mama Tan­doori by Ernest Van Der Kwast (Scribe, £7.99)

Sunday Herald Life - - BOOKS REVIEW -

Mem­oir, fic­tion or au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal novel? Which­ever, it’s based on the author’s Nether­lands child­hood un­der the gaze of a larger-than-life mother, Veena, a nurse who came from In­dia, mar­ried a Dutch doc­tor and be­came an in­domitable ma­tri­arch. She’s not shy about en­forc­ing her rule if she deems it nec­es­sary, such as when son Jo­hann brings home a Mus­lim girl or Ernest de­clares his in­ten­tion to be a writer. So de­voted is she to her men­tally-chal­lenged el­dest son, she sends him to faith heal­ers hop­ing he might be­come a doc­tor or lawyer, while ig­nor­ing the achieve­ments of her other sons. A se­ries of amus­ing set-pieces, tinged with the kind of poignancy that comes from find­ing the hu­mour in in­ci­dents that must have hurt deeply at the time.

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