If you buy only one audiobook this year, Kim should be top of your list. Kipling may be slightly out of fashion, but Kim is a masterpiece that you will acknowledge right from the start. And it only gets better. Kingsley Amis, quoted on the box of this CSA recording, wrote about Kim: ‘Not only the finest story about India ... but one of the greatest novels in the language’.
Set between the Second and Third Afghan Wars, in around the 1890s, Kim is a picaresque novel concerning the remarkable life of the orphaned son of an Irish soldier and Freemason and a poor white mother who have both died in poverty. He lives a precarious existence in India under British rule, begging and running small errands on the streets of Lahore. His keen intelligence, his linguistic gifts, and his ability to fade into any surroundings make him a perfect spy in the Great Game, as the English and Russian War is known. His personal quest for his father’s heritage and his friend the aged Tibetan Lama’s search to free himself from the Wheel of Things by finding the legendary ‘River of the Arrow’ merge into one of the most captivating and absorbing stories in the English canon.
Intrigue, espionage, adventure, clashes of faiths, religions and cultures, and post-Mutiny politics all combine into an auditory delight, brought alive by the astonishing skill and verve of Sanjeev Bhaskar, the reader. Bhaskar’s performance will certainly get my vote in this year’s audiobook awards.
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