The White Mogul
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CHRIS SPECTOR, MIDWEST RECORD - Lake Zürich/Chicago
ZUSTAND-AL GROMER KHAN/The White Mogul: Suppose Nick Hornby had other aspirations than being a Limey writing about music in hipster, American neighborhoods. Would he have it together to write this world wide novel of eye opening proportions that reads like a modern day “On the Road” with music as the driving force? Enough with the “Eat, Pray, Love“ already, guys have to have a few eye opening journeys as well when given the time and tide to pursue such opportunities. As compelling as any of the eye opening novels by Cohen, etc, Khan takes you on a journey that feels like Townes Van Zandt taking a side trip through the Indian music underground and perhaps coming out of it with his teeth intact. A thick tome that could easily be a commuters pal for several weeks of urban scooting, this is a dandy read that’s musically vibrant enough along the way to almost open your ears as well. Seekers, start your engines and check it out.
Book Review *****
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
The White Mogul by Al Gromer Khan is a poignant tale set in the 1960s where the nineteen-year-old protagonist, Hans von der Thann, rebels against the restrictions and clash of cultures that lead him to discover a spiritual freedom through music. Running away from his country to India to learn the sitar gave him confidence as sound began to influence his life slowly. The India which initially rejects, insults and mocks him finally blesses him. As the story progresses, readers take the journey along with Hans von der Thann from London to Bombay where his life is inextricably entwined with encounters of manipulation and deceit, which contribute to a large extent to his spiritual growth.
In one word I would describe the story as 'exotic.' The book is divine, it's exotic, it touches the soul. The cover design rocks. The book captures the essence of India during those times with the ambiguity and mysterious tones of Urdu poetry, the palace ambiance, and the young boy's struggle to adjust to his new world. The author's descriptive narration captivates readers as they get a peek into the life that existed behind the palace walls in India. As the story shifts between London and India, readers are glued to the story with its many dimensions that connect to them on different levels. The underlying spiritual vibes provided by the music in the book are surreal and the healing power of music runs effectively through the plot. The story gives a new meaning to the freedom that runs through all of us with the help of music, making it refreshingly original.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Impressive Novel About German Musician, The Orient And About Love To Indian Music
By Sergey on January 31, 2016
Format: Perfect Paperback
Al Gromer Khan is muscian from Germany. He is well-known for the lovers of Indian and ambient music.
Usually in the the books by muscians or in their memoirs you could find some jokes and stories from their lives, some facts about their records, some words (nice or hostile) about their collegues. The books to read fast, to place on the shelve in your room and to forget about it for many years. That's not the case.
This is novel and Al Gromer Khan works with the words as masterfully as with his instruments. The novel is based on his personal experiences, and the quality of narration is very high.
Young hyppie musician Hans (Candide of this novel) is caught in the net of contradictions between the ideal images of Indian spirituality and raw reality of everyday life in flower power epoch London and in Bombay of the first half of the 70s. Al Gromer Khans changes points and angles of veiw for the reader. Sometimes you are seeing events from the point of view of the author, sometimes - from point of view of the main hero, sometimes - you are seeing Hans through the eyes of his teacher and his girlfriend. So you'll get multi-dimensional vision of the events. While you are reading the novel - you are there in London and Bombay with the hero and you are feeling (nearly phisically) harsh contrast between aespthetic impact of Indian music and the inevitable necessity for the musician to submit himself to the rules and traditions of Indian society which are quite different from standard Western views of the Orient. Lively images of Indian musicians, false gurus, bandits, women of different social levels, ordinary people - the author creates 3D picture of Indian city life in the mind of the reader.
Al Gromer Khan is honest with his hero and his reader. The life is depicted here in its most pleasant and most nasty situations.
The novel is very actual now when the problems of global North and global South are a part of our everyday life. The White Mogul could be quite sobering reading for those who are trying to impose their own socio-political standards on the life of other nations and cultures.
Top Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 starsThe White Mogul
By Rolf Silvio Andreas on June 18, 2014
Format: Perfect Paperback
For me this was a remarkable read. The story works on a number of different levels simultaneously, with a story-line that draws an amazing arc of suspense throughout the book. A kind of book which you remember during the day, making you look forward to night-time reading pleasure. The protagonist, a somewhat naïve German hippie boy, gets right in between the clash of cultures, religions, old and new, restriction and freedom. Through his seemingly endless plight he receives a philosophical compurgation through music, turning him into an intermediary in these times of change from devotion to rebellion and back again into a sphere beyond institutions, towards a kind of true spirituality. All of this the author tells with the kind of tongue in cheek humor that leaves no stone unturned, no human sentiment left out, from the lowest to the highest, with the bottom-line pronouncing that we're all human, and that music can make us free. Unputdownable, as they say.
02.02.2014 Stephen Hill, Owner, Hearts of Space, California, USA National Radio
I use this salutation more knowingly than before now that I've finished the book. Quite a splendid tale, Al. I think it's the best and most fully personal work of art you've given us; the book format gives you ample room to expose all aspects of your personality. And who knew you were such a good raconteur? The translation and proofing were both excellent. The only thing I had trouble with was the occasional bit of German, which I've never had the occasion to learn.
I hope it's a big success. Keep writing novels and eventually you'll sell the film rights, which will allow your golden years to be truly golden!
Personal regards :: Dr. Space
Nick Campbell: Senior partner of CZWG Architects LLP, London
04.11.2013 I am engrossed in your book which I am enjoying immensely... and have learnt that in life "everything has an end" except a German sausage. The piece about the 102 year old tabla player was thrilling and proves that point that we all like a happy ending. The translation, with a few very minor exceptions, is excellent and the translator should be congratulated. I will continue to read avidly. Thank you.
A most excellent novel at many levels! Respect!
Craig Sams 04.04.14
The book was very atmospheric - I think even if I'd never been to India I would have understood the state of mind that one enters there. It was more of a page turner than I expected at the beginning - you want to see how things turn out along the various threads that weave in and out, sometimes quite unexpectedly, of the narrative. Your willingness to be servile as a student combined with your need to survive and your increasing awareness that the masters are just like the rest of us comes through again and again. I really enjoyed it, though it hasn't really greatly altered the way I listen to music, either yours or other music...except perhaps the drums - that old boy Feroze really registered in my memory and I've read it a few times, with your onomotopoeic tickatickaticka or should I say Dirdindir dhin dhin dhinna - dirdir dhina dhin dhin that needs to be read aloud by the reader to illuminate the text.
Anyway, many thanks for an enjoyable read that also brought back many memories of my own times in the region back in 1965.