It’s not often that you have the opportunity to pick up a book and within moments realize you’re reading something entirely and interestingly unlike anything you’ve ever read before. But such is the case with All About H. Hatterr, by G. V. Desani, a thoroughly weird (in the best way) and hilarious novel.
Originally published in 1948 — but currently in a handsome new reprint courtesy of the New York Review of Books — it follows the adventures of H. Hatterr, a European man schooled in Calcutta, and on a search for enlightenment. He meets seven sages along the way, each with teachings of what it means to live. But Desani’s unique working of the English language is even more fascinating than the plot (T. S. Eliot said, “In all my experience, I have not met with anything quite like it”). In his 1969 preface, Anthony Burgess wrote, “It is not pure English; it is, like the English of Shakespeare, Joyce and Kipling, gloriously impure.”
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