Brilliantly comic and almost unbearably moving, Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom is one of the most powerful and original fiction debuts of recent years.
She was always Em to us. There may have been a time when we called her something ordinary like Mummy, or Ma, but I don’t remember. She was Em, and our father, sometimes, was the Big Hoom.
In a tiny flat in Bombay Imelda Mendes – Em to her children – holds her family in thrall with her flamboyance, her manic affection and her cruel candour. Her husband – to whom she was once ‘Buttercup’ – and her two children must bear her ‘microweathers’, her swings from laugh-out-loud joy to dark malevolence.
In Em and the Big Hoom, the son begins to unravel the story of his parents: the mother he loves and hates in the same moment and the unusual man who courted, married and protected her – as much from herself as from the world.
‘It is utterly persuasive and deeply affecting: stylistically adventurous it is never self-indulgent; although suffused with pain it shows no trace of self-pity. Parts of it are extremely funny, and its pages are filled with endearing and eccentric characters’ Amitav Ghosh
‘A child’s-eye view of madness and sorrow, full of love, pain, and, unaccountably, much wild comedy. ne of the very best books to come out of India in a long, long time’ Salman Rushdie
Jerry Pinto is a Mumbai-based writer and translator, has been a mathematics tutor, school librarian and a journalist. Pinto writes in English, and his works include, Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (2006) which won the Best Book on Cinema Award at the 54th National Film Awards, Surviving Women (2000) and Asylum and Other Poems (2003). His first novel Em and the Big Hoom was published in 2012. Pinto won the Windham-Campbell prize and the Sahitya Akademi Award, both in 2016 for his novel Em and the Big Hoom.
His translations include, Cobalt Blue, I, The Salt Doll, Baluta and others