By Hari Kunzru (Dutton, 276 pages, $24.95)
The ever-tightening circles of detail that Kunzru (of the much-praised The Impressionist) employs in the telling of Transmission are, at first, off-putting, and the transitions of style one clunky sentence, one florid one and then, perhaps, a marvel of precision are truly dizzying. Yet Kunzru's style jells wonderfully to tell a story that's richly simple: A nervously naive computer programmer from one of Bombay's bleak industrial outskirts (which, appropriately enough for the plot, just happens to abut Bollywood's "Film City") ends up as a 21st-century indentured servant in Redmond, Wash., and takes an episode of downsizing rather personally. Thankfully, Kunzru doesn't take this as an opportunity to riff on globalization, dot-com dreams or technophobia; instead, he tells a riveting tale of paranoia and consequences. Kunzru collides some intentionally outsized character types in this petri dish of a story, and it's his imaginative prose style that makes their unpredictable stories so engrossing.
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