Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Book Recommendation: "Windy City"

Something different today: a political novel. Scott Simon's Windy City. It's the story of Sunny Roopini, an alderman with the city of Chicago who becomes the temporary mayor when the mayor is murdered. It sounds like a mystery, but the mystery elements are kept to the background.

It's a story about politics, and a real eye-opener about the wheeling-dealing that goes on behind the scenes as aldermen jockey for favours and have political ambitions beyond municipal politics. My mother was an alderman for Kitchener back some thirty years ago, and I don't remember this kind of stuff going on, but a city as large and influential as Chicago is functioning on a whole different level. Plus, this is America, not Canada.

It's the story of Sunny Roopini, a man who expects to be the acting mayor for 3 days until a new mayor is elected. He runs his Indian food restaurant, his wife was murdered in a botched robbery a year ago, and he is trying to raise 2 teenage daughters who have become distant. He is trying to do his best by the city he loves and in the footsteps of the larger-than-life mayor whom he also loved. Sunny is witty, thoughtful, ethical, smart, worldly, and loyal - a great character.

This is also a tribute to Chicago, a contemporary city with a lot of history and racial/class diversity; a city that the author obviously loves.

The writing is lyrical in its descriptions, yet somehow comfortable, too. I must confess that there were times I didn't get what the characters were talking about, but I attributed that to my lack of political savvy. It's not a novel that I rushed through in a day; it took some time and a little effort to work this one out. In the end, it was different than anything I have read before, and I truly enjoyed it.

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