Chasing the Monsoon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Alexander Frater is a travel writer with the London OBSERVER. Born in the South Pacific, he learned from his father to respect the volatile climatic changes of the area. In CHASING THE MONSOON, Frater takes the opportunity to chronicle his encounter with an Indian monsoon, from the tropical town of Trivandrum on the southern tip of India to the village of Cherrapunji, which has been called “the wettest place on Earth.” Frater’s journey lasted for two months in 1987. On the way to Cherrapunji, he encountered a great variety of Indian locales and the intriguing people that inhabit them.

CHASING THE MONSOON is more than a meteorological checklist. It is a touching portrait of the lives of the Indian people and how they are positively and negatively affected by the monsoon. For the majority of Indians, life is extremely hard. Frater makes the point that the monsoon was welcomed in some places because the land had become dry. India is a land of extremes and Frater carefully touches on the many moods that make up this vast country. CHASING THE MONSOON is a compassionate book. Frater has respect for the culture of India and he presents various rituals through the eye of an interested observer.

The monsoon inundated many areas of India, and therefore numbers of people lost their homes, possessions, and on occasion loved ones. Since India is a poor country, it cannot respond to such natural disasters as a rich Western country would. Through it all, though, life does go on and there seems to be a hearty resilience in Indian people that helps them cope with misfortune. In CHASING THE MONSOON, Frater has written a marvelous travel story that is full of humor, danger, and a love for the people with whom he comes in contact.