Em and the Big Hoom
Em and the Big Hoom.jpg
First edition
AuthorJerry Pinto
PublisherAleph Book Company
Turtleback Books
Publication date
1 April 2012
Pages240 (first edition hardcover)

Em and the Big Hoom is an English-language novel written by Jerry Pinto. The book won The Hindu Literary Prize, the Crossword Book Award, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize.

The foundation of the book is built on the unusual relationships within the Mendes family: Imelda, Augustine, their daughter Susan, and their unnamed son from whose perspective the book is narrated. The non-linear storyline chronicles the life of the family, from the early lives of Imelda and Augustine (known by their children as 'Em' and 'The Big Hoom') to the family's chaotic struggle with Em's bipolar disorder, her euphoric flamboyance, strange charm, and paranoid attempts at suicide.[1]

Background and writing

While generally categorised as fiction, the book draws heavily on Pinto's upbringing as a Goan Catholic in Mumbai, and his family's struggle with his own mother's bipolar disorder. An earlier version of the novel was written in the form of a memoir, but was rewritten as fiction after it began to take an emotional toll on Pinto. The original draft of the novel was around 750,000 words, three times the length of War and Peace.[1][2]

Critical reception

The book was praised by several writers, including Salman Rushdie, who called it "one of the very best books to come out of India in a long, long time."[3] Amitav Ghosh said that the novel was "profoundly moving book" and that he could not remember when he had last read something as touching.[4] In a review for India Today, Anvar Alikhan said of the novel, "I don't know how much of this book is autobiographical, but I suspect a large part of it is: It's just too authentic, in its minutiae of mental illness, and its deliberately matter-of-fact narrative of pain, for it to be the fiction that it pretends to be. It's an emotionally daunting book and, frankly, I'm not sure everybody will have the strength, or even the compassion, to reap its richness."[5]

Em and The Big Hoom received international critical acclaim as well. For The Irish Times, Eileen Battersby wrote in her review, "Pinto’s book is shocking in its impressive understatement (.....) There may not be such a thing as a perfect book, yet Jerry Pinto comes heartbreakingly close."[6]

In The Guardian, Scarlett Thomas wrote, "This book is most successful when the characters are allowed to speak for themselves, and Pinto is quite a genius with dialogue. (...) This is an India that many people won't have seen, and while we don't spend enough time in that flat in Bombay, it is worth hanging around outside."[7] Peter Yeung of The Financial Times reported, "It is written with genuine compassion and sincerity, while a sprinkling of black humour ensures it is never overly sentimental."[8]




  1. ^ a b Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto - Reading Guide - PenguinRandomHouse.com.
  2. ^ Bearak, Max (2014). "A Conversation With: Author Jerry Pinto". India Ink. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto". www.penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  4. ^ "'Em and The Big Hoom' by Jerry Pinto « Amitav Ghosh". amitavghosh.com. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Review of Em And The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto". India Today. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Cruel and unusual". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  7. ^ Thomas, Scarlett (3 May 2014). "Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto – family life and mental turmoil in Bombay". the Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  8. ^ "'Em and the Big Hoom', by Jerry Pinto". Financial Times. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  9. ^ "In conversation with Jerry Pinto: How mental health and illness is perceived in India-Living News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 11 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Hope my book has served readers well: Jerry Pinto on Sahitya Akademi award". Hindustan Times. 22 December 2016.
  11. ^ "'Popular choice' ruled at book awards". Times of India. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  12. ^ "The Hindu Literary Prize goes to Jerry Pinto". The Hindu. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Delhi Public Library". Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  14. ^ Pinto, Jerry (8 May 2016). "The modest Shanta Gokhale". theweek.in. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  15. ^ Desquesnes, Naïké (1 March 2016). "Grandir près d'une mère folle". Le Monde diplomatique (in French). Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  16. ^ ISBN 978-93-87989-02-3
  17. ^ Pinto, Jerry (2018). "எம்மும் பெரிய ஹூமும்".