Book Review: Centre Court by Sriram Subramanian (2017)

514919ryyrl-_sx333_bo1204203200_Centre Court by Sriram Subramanian
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

 

This is that time of the year when the lush green grass just doesn’t spring to hallowed life but turns sentinels to the unparalleled spectacle of crowning glory in the pantheon of sports – it is time of Wimbledon. It is, arguably, the mecca of tennis, where every player worth his/ her salt wishes to give atleast one winning speech in their lifetimes. And so, what better time to read ‘Centre Court’, this scintillating fictional account of an Indian lad, pursuing his dream at ‘The Championships’, than now? Continue reading

Book Review: This House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab (2017)

THIS House of Clay and WaterThis House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Forbidden Love – A diktat in itself, unleashed on unsuspecting hearts like an ouroboros where forbidden swallows love and yet appears whole, showing no signs of damage. No one knows the pain except the latter that is now usurped by the former. But it is when the opposite happens, that the tale transcends its meagre form and turns one for the generations.

Nida comes from a sophisticated family of high-ranking politicians and is married too, to one from this fraternity, but none of that sophistication and power has healed her wounds inflicted by her little daughter’s death.

Life is exacting and cruel. Death is calm oblivion. Life betrays everyone while death, without fail, always finds us.

Continue reading

Book Review – In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri (2016)

28fir22-4_022816105304In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
My Rating:  4 of 5 Stars

A few months back, I began planning for a vacation to a foreign country, tentatively scheduled for March/ April. This time suited me professionally as my work commitments were a tad less tight. My brother, who generally makes it to these family vacations, was not to make it this time due to his other engagements. The trip was planned and I was all ready to take off. Just a week before I was scheduled to fly, my brother called up and with reference to the trip, asked simply this one question, “Would you be able to manage the language there?” I was about to fly to a country where English was hardly spoken in day-to-day life.

Words. Language encircling Words. Dialects categorizing Words. Usage validating Words. There is something about Words. No. Everything is about Words. Continue reading

Book Review: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (2017)

51chitfapol-_sy344_bo1204203200_The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/li…]

How does a lament sound? Like a distorted sonorous wave? Hitting the crest with a shrill cry and falling to quietude with mangled whimpers? Or like a prolonged stream of soiled garble, comprehensible only to its beholder?

I don’t know on which note of the spectrum this book might fit in, but I do know that this book is a lament – lament on the daily struggles for (dignified) survival borne by the scarred populace of war-torn Kashmir, which unfortunately I can’t talk of in past tense, and the marginalized of the society (taking the transgender as the pivotal link).

The book, from where I see, is about two characters – A transgender, Anjum and a riot victim, Tilottama. Anjum, born Aftab in Old Delhi but discarded by her family for socially- unacceptable biological makeup, is adopted by a whore-house. Continue reading

Book Review: Cry, Heart But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved (2001)

25329997Cry, Heart But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Even to the most-learned men and women, few things are as scary, swamping and tearing as death. Like an end, that ultimate exit, beyond which everything becomes void and nothing remains to return, it hovers over us like a spying cloud, always waiting for that one chance to seize our life and make it its own. How then, would one, explain its inevitability, its invincibility, its essentiality to children?

This gem of a book, majestically, rises to this task. Continue reading

Book Review: Ignorance by Milan Kundera (2000)

41gljwkfwil-_sy344_bo1204203200_Ignorance by Milan Kundera
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

“The more vast the amount of time we’ve left behind us, the more irresistible is the voice calling us to return to it.”

In this poignant recount of two people, forced to bid goodbye to their native country, in the diminished, yet flickering hope of finding a brighter tomorrow in an alien land, almost 20 years ago from the present, unravels a story replete with more questions than answers. Irena and Josef have found comfortable refuge in their respective abodes at Paris and Copenhagen and have led a fairly decent life, battling through tags of émigrés and periods of insuperable doubts. Irena has outlived her husband, Martin, reared her two daughters dutifully and seems comfortably living her life with her partner, Gustaf , many years her senior. Josef, after leading a few years of blissful matrimony with his Danish wife, had to surrender her to death which clutched the hands of a severe disease to bring down the curtains. Continue reading

Book Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017)

9780393609097_p0_v5_s192x300Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here]

Of all the fiction in this world, I find the ones rooted in mythology the most enticing; not because there is an element of otherworldly magic in them but because somewhere deep down, a bewitching veil of truth hovers above them. The characters we read of, the prowess we fall to, the betrayals we appal at and the spells we dive in, have all a debatable root which almost like our very own samudra manthan of the Hindu mythology, can be twisted this way or that. As most myths are made lesser of primary evidence and more of a secondary interpretation, there is a hidden little room of sorts from where you can see as far as you can, like Heimdall in this book. He is a kind of parallel to Mahabharata’s Sanjaya. Continue reading

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang (2007)

51bdxkezzol-_sx325_bo1204203200_The Vegetarian by Han Kang
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits)]

Many of us, if stretch a little, can recall the question that appeared in our science textbooks in primary schools: choose the living and non-living thing from the following options. While we conveniently tagged all humans, animals and plants to the ‘living’ side, everything else chugged to the ‘non living’ side. But did the divide stand the test of time?

Han Kang pushes this very divide to scintillating heights, reducing the line into a mere fissure, facilitating travel from one living form to another. So, we meet a young Yeong-hye in South Korea, a compliant wife in a patriarchal society, suddenly renouncing meat at the behest of a curious dream. Continue reading

Book Review: Autumn by Ali Smith (2016)

28446947Autumn by Ali Smith
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

 

[Originally appeared here.] 

She has done it in the past; and she does it again here. Ali Smith’s fixation on, and a visible mastery of, story-telling across timeline, in no particular order, shines in this experimental, breezy novel as well.

Centred around the 30-something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, sometimes acerbic but entirely warming season of their friendship. Elisabeth, with a ‘s’, is a history of art professor, whose interest was originally kindled in the subject she currently teaches, by the liberal hours she had spent with Daniel, her then-babysitter. As a genial neighbour to Elisabeth’s busy mother, he had agreed to be her caretaker, and in turn, had relished the artistic discourse with the little Ms. Demand. Fast forward a good twenty plus years and Daniel is now a patient in a day care, under the constant vigil of nurses and in wait of, perhaps, the same palliative cacophony of Elisabeth’s inquisitive murmur. Continue reading

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (2016)

41jfvzl72yl-_sx336_bo1204203200_When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi                                                             My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

[Originally appeared here (with edits)]

It has been a few days since I turned the last page of this book. But the numbness reappears the instant I allow the pages to unfold in my memory. The silence which suddenly parts to let these memories seep in and cloud my vision, fills the air. Even as I grapple to make ‘sense’ of what it means to lose a dear, dear one, I, ironically, already know that very‘sense’ to be ephemeral. No part of my being accepts death; they all adjust the lens to view it as a part of life.

Paul was a neurosurgeon by profession, and passion, at Stanford University School of Medicine. Standing at the threshold of seeing his dream come true, one built on a decade and half of relentless academic pursuits and tireless hours at residency, he witnesses a cruel twist of destiny; he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, just months before his scheduled graduation. Continue reading