monastery a long time ago but is succumbing to the bottle again just as the promise of personal salvation is within view.
The triangular dynamics between these characters are outlined from their different perspectives, with a single episode often getting three takes. This is always intriguing, never predictable, as Delahunt succeeds in making each voice distinctive. But for all its careful construction, this is less a plotted story than a novel of insight and ideas, perception and philosophy. Rarely have the practice and pitfalls of meditation been described so absorbingly, either.
Visual observations of India abound, sometimes uplifting, often disturbing. A cliched subject is often transformed under her gaze: “At an intersection a beggar child left an imprint of his hand on the taxi window. The palm print was like an X-ray of longing.” At the same time, The Red Book questions where the We s t ’ s d r iv e to “understand” India becomes something closer to voyeurism, and where Western guilt perhaps ceases to be genuine. “All emotions are colour-coded,” Francoise says. “My mother’s house was filled with the beige emotion. Don’t expect too much and you won’t be too disappointed.” It would take an extraordinarily exacting reader to be disappointed by this red book.