My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My incentive to read ‘Cough Syrup Surrealism’ was the fact that the author is from Thiruvananthapuram and that somebody from the 90s era would be documenting life as we know it here. I felt ambiguous wading through numerous US and UK pop cultural references in terms of sitcoms and music. On the one hand, it’s very close to what I experienced growing up as well, but in my own nascent efforts to put together some words on how life was like at that time, I wanted to make sure that the narrative wouldn’t be overcome by the heavy reference to an alien culture which we have so readily adopted here as our own. The author does well to keep you hooked with some fairly interesting characters, but when I finished reading it, I felt like I just watched an Anurag Kashyap film, say, something like Dev D, rather than a book about 90s mallu guy in Chennai. But maybe I am putting my own hopes into the novel rather than take it for what the author offers. Overall it is a fast-paced, drug-induced rock opera of a fun-read.