The Sensualist by Ruskin Bond: Book Review by Asha Seth

I am ardent admirer of Ruskin Bond and try to read anything and everything he’s written. This book was a welcome change from the customary Bond fiction. With The Sensualist, Ruskin Bond has ventured away from his stylist fiction that has won him tonnes of admirers and followers. Naturally, therefore, ‘The Sensualist’ caused quite some unpleasant stir with its plot which had boldly strayed from the acceptable norms in literature in the then Indian society.

The Sensualist explores the sexual escapades of a coming-of-age boy traversing through his experiences as a grown-up man and someone who loses his appetite after becoming sexually involved with a certain someone who took charge of his sexual desires and left him feeling drained with nothing more to experience or offer.

The Sensualist
Image Credit: Goodreads

A traveler feeling exhausted of his tiresome journey through Kapila region in India, while seeking water, stumbles across a cave where he encounters a man who is,

“He is naked except for a tightly wound loincloth. Long, matted hair falls below his shoulders. The ribs show through his chest. His skin has been burnt black by the sun and toughened into old leather by the dry wind that sweeps across the mountains. The eyes are bright black pinpoints in a cavernous face.”

Thus we spiral down the life of the unnamed protagonist in Ruskin Bond’s The Sensualist.

A novella of 100 odd pages, this book is a fresh look into the mind of one of the most admired writers of India who dared to foray into unacceptable realms of erotica which is so subtle and succinct in its prose that as you soak in the fiction, you can see the real Ruskin who you have grown to love, peek from behind the words and smile at you, as you revel in the beauty of it all.

This is a brief erotic account of a sex-addict’s life… Not the usual Bond literature, but brimming with his style and simplicity that retains the pristine gift of his words.

If you happen to read ‘The Sensualist’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.