Book Review: Following Fish, by Samanth Subramanian

I’m neither very fond of traveling, nor fond of seafood. When this book came my way, gifted by a friend, I didn’t know if I would like it. The author travels from coast to coast, following fish, but as it turns out, the book isn’t just about fish as food.

They say the first chapter is a good indication if a book would interest a reader. I loved the first “fish” so to speak. The author takes the reader to Bengal, and the famous “hilsa” fish. I have savored shorshe ilish just once, and liked it. This first chapter made me crave that again. It also took me to the marketplaces, shared interesting tidbits. It was a virtual mini trip to Kolkata. From there, the next stop was Hyderabad, and a treatment I had heard of quite often. I didn’t know the history behind the treatment, and this chapter shed some light on it.

Manapadu was the third stop, but this chapter wasn’t as interesting or memorable for me. The fourth chapter was in my native land Kerala. Knowing that the author’s trips would sooner or later get him to the state, I had guessed what the topic would be. The kappa-meen curry is quite well known, and the difference in the fish at various places was interesting. This chapter and the next one in Mangalore almost convinced me I need to try seafood more often.

The other chapters were set in Goa, Mumbai and Gujarat. Of these I loved reading the first chapter where the sailfish is chased.

The book is a mix of food, culture, society, legacy and much more. Such a mix makes it appealing to different readers, I think. I loved the food part, and it was nice to read about the culture as well, and the various types of fish discussed. One of my favorite parts was about chasing the sailfish. I didn’t always love the history or the society being shared, though it didn’t disengage me from the read. At times it is observational, and at times it feels like a memory being relived. The photographs add to the experience as well. I wished they were in color, with a panel for them specifically.

I loved the cover art, which I think captures the reader at a bookstore. It’s a quick ride around the coastline of India, one that the author describes as a necklace. I would re-read this book, but perhaps not all chapters.


A Score Of 8 Out Of 10
Book Details
Title: Following Fish
Author(s): Samanth Subramanian Genre: Travelogue
ISBN/ASIN: 9780143064473 Publisher: Penguin Books

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
28th March 2018)

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