An year when Books begot Friends! :)

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From the time I know, I have been in company of books. Beginning with casual strolls in my father’s library and running my tiny fingers over the book spines to sampling one on a fine afternoon and falling in love with its tribe, I have hardly ever left the book-country. With passing years came new dreams and ambitions, and to fuel them, different roles and responsibilities. I pursued them but without leaving sight of my books and their world. During rough patches, I succumbed to pale fire and let my reading take a backseat. But like a faithful, I always found my way back to it. This steadfast relationship meant that less (and less) time was getting allocated to friends and acquaintances, and with each passing year, getting distant from most of them. One day, about four years ago, I realized I have (almost) run out of friends.

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Book Review: The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller (1992)

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The Fox Was Ever The Hunter by Herta Müller
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Imagine your heart is a sheet of paper and Müller’s words, the needle – and then, let the typewriter go berserk. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang. The words hit you, one after another, and her ink doesn’t run dry. The angst, the rage, the lament, the despair takes on unstoppable force and goes pinging on your heart like a tireless hammer – only it is a needle and the prick seeps into your blood like it has found a home.  Continue reading

Book Review: In Custody by Anita Desai (2007)

In Custody by Anita Desai
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

‘The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

It is befitting to quote Rumi to introduce the middle-aged protagonist of this book who sends swirls of a bruised dream into the air even while chugging along life with a rusted body. Deven, a teacher in the small town of Mirpore, finds his humdrum walk thrown off guard when his college buddy, Murad, a cunning fox and an accidental two-penny publisher, flummoxes him into interviewing Nur, a legendary poet of yesteryear and Deven’s idol in youth. Overwhelmed by the awarding of a chance so rare and fulfilling, his fan-heart heaves wild beats, that eventually begins sending tremors of discord and dislocation across his family, friends, circle and beyond.

His life suddenly becomes a series of road trips between Mirpore and Delhi, each carrying memories that ricochets off his present like belongings of irretrievable past.  Continue reading

Book Review: Nutshell by Ian McEwan (2016)

Nutshell by Ian McEwan
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits): http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li…]

 

Pessimism is too easy, even delicious, the badge and plume of intellectuals everywhere. It absolves the thinking classes of solutions.

This wonderfully sapient insight springs somewhere in the middle of this book and almost gives away the rationale behind McEwan’s choice of protagonist – a fetus.

Yes, this 200-odd pages of scheming a murder is seen through the eyes of a fetus from the womb of his mother, a party to the hatching game. The other party is her lover, who is also incidentally her husband’s brother. They huddle together in the former’s house, conspiring to kill the husband. Sounds familiar? Continue reading

Book Review: The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil (2017)

The Book of Chocolate Saints by Jeet Thayil
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit. – The man is either mad or he is composing verses.

But what verses, would you say, emanate from the bosom of passion that borders on delirium? What timbre of voice floats in the smoked air held dense between intoxicating fame and inebriating oblivion? What fumes of rage charge the pen that knows its limits like a bird does the sky’s? Ask Xavier and he shall reveal the seething hearth, one ballistic verse (or painting) at a time.

When journalist Dismas Bambai embarks on expounding the poetic scene of post-colonial Bombay in an anthology, he excavates his known and obscure sources to put together the chapter on the Newton Francis Xavier. Xavier is a liar, a womanizer, a consumed painter. And he is also a loner, a masochist, a celebrated poet. Chronicle this 62-year old’s story across India and America, with cultural attendance of Bombay in full glory, is what the book does. Or not? Continue reading

Book Review: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2017)

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits): http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li…]

Feminism – A rather commonly used terms these days, with interpretations far and wide, but not necessarily, coherent. If among contemporary writers there is one who imparts veritable meaning and clarity to this much relevant and pertinent ideology, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would be her name.

When a friend asked Adichie how she can raise her little daughter as a feminist, Adichie shared fifteen suggestions in form of a letter. And each one of them echoes so loud that it feels quite unreal to see these obvious orders missing in our societies. Continue reading