The book club at Lambeth House chose A Passage to India for the month of September. It’s a classic, but I had never read it. What I expected was more along the lines of vivid imagery, a period piece filled with period costumes. The book, however, is more a social commentary and a tragicomedy of errors.

British imperialism has a stranglehold on India, and the main characters misunderstand each other with intention at times and through sheer impenetrability at others.  Both groups focus on stereotypes and one of the conflicts in the book surrounds visitors’ need to understand THE INDIAN. The British are reduced to characters in a Punch and Judy performance and the Indians to caricatures from some black and white where the Stooges are bopping each other on the head. People in the book end up in the trial of the century (at least for this spot in India) because of the roles people play and the roles they think others play.

While I finished reading A Passage to India, I was engaged in Clockers. This book also took me down a path I had not anticipated. Labeled a mystery, Clockers, too, is more of a social commentary.  Given the author, Richard Price, was a writer on The Wire, I should have known better. A police officer, Rocco,  considers the imperialism of the cops in the lower income neighborhoods where they are trying to stem the tide of drug trafficking. The cops stuck in the “cracking skulls” persona, and the clockers stuck in their “this is all there is” way of life.

It is amazing we keep doing the same old things from decade to decade, and with the conviction of the history-less, we expect different results.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

~Albert Einstein