Book Review: Blindness by José Saramago (1995)

51cfnhz5p7lBlindness by José Saramago
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

What an irony that a book which holds, loss, filth, loot, stomp, cruelty, disorientation, putrefaction, injustice, helplessness, murder, rape, misery, nakedness, abandonment, death and unimaginable suffering in its bosom, left me with a climactic emotion of beauty, overwhelming beauty. Beauty of what you ask? That of resilience, that of courage, that of insurmountable human spirit which perhaps hits its zenith when it is brutally pinned to the bottommost pit.

Blindness has a chilling plot – a city where people start going blind, without a warning or faintest history. Continue reading

Book Review: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“He was full of resolution but he had little hope.”

And often, like a seductive oasis, this little hope beguiles the heart to endure battles of gargantuan magnitude, letting seep every second the realization of the effort turning as much futile as it may be fruitful.

Fisherman Santiago lives in a barren land, bearing just a few hope saplings, which he patiently waits to bear fruit. He is frugal and easily happy, but his simpleton living has not tamed his aspirations, lofty by his standards. He wants to catch a BIG fish, something so commanding and magnificent that it can seal his tenacity and authority, among his community, his friends and above all, his doubting self. Continue reading

Book Review: Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano (1990)

323530Honeymoon by Patrick Modiano
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars

I felt a vague twinge of remorse: has a reader the right to criticize certain details under the pretext that she considers them superfluous?

Beginning my review by borrowing a line from the novel and infusing it with my words means two things: one, the novel did not leave me without anything and two, the novel did not stay with me enough.

Honeymoon; the title alone was a powerful catalyst to tilt the scales in its favour, overpowering its more compelling cousins namely Missing Person and The Search Warrant to emerge as my first choice to explore the Modiano world. But like many honeymoons of recent times, the euphoria around the event was far more jubilant than the event itself. Continue reading

Book Review: Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera (2014)

book-signsprecedingendofworld-herrera-200Sign Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a little girl, I had many fears. Born from reasonable and not-so-reasonable wombs of circumstances, I consciously (and consistently) fought their penetrating presence by erecting walls of logic and fortitude. With passing years, I saw many of them surrendering and receding into thin smoke, leaving me a fertile air concomitant of a progressive upbringing.

But some fears continue to seethe within the subdued bark of emotions like its ashen cousin in an extinguished bonfire: time and again, an unexpected gush of reminiscent wind victimizes the tranquil symmetry and bares the fear to rise like a blinding demon of ineluctable anaesthetic might. Continue reading

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)

51p2bjgqy-il-_sy344_bo1204203200_The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was sitting on the lower berth; ambivalent yet observant. The view from my window seat was appealing. On the parallel track, a train had just pulled on. The neighboring compartment was a dynamic collage of people, suitcases, trolleys, food and jubilant chatter. There were two stocky boys, fighting for the window seat. And there was a mamma who would rather put her baby to sleep. The grouchy father stooped onto his newspaper and the two girls in the adjacent berth were…….BLUR. The train gave a swift jerk, collapsing the collage into a blur. It was gone in seconds. I was still waiting for my train to start. After getting a clear signal, another train leveled up to my side. Intrigued, I looked across the window again. Continue reading

Book Review: The World Doesn’t End by Charles Simic (1989)

book_worldThe World Doesn’t End by Charles Simic
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Throw a pebble into the pool and
see it dissolve into shimmering currents,
carrying burdens of ashen leaves that autumn
has swept beneath the silent tremors, teaming to cry
their laments; Or hide behind a ripe tree and cast a glance,
all the way to that faint window where a boy, on one palm,
is counting stars and fanning the other to soothe
his bruises and in his eyes, dances the night,
like a celebrating comet, about to go ablaze
in just a matter of Time; Time—
the lizard in the sunlight. 

Continue reading

Book Review: Stoner by John Williams (1965)

51nu26thj-l-_sy344_bo1204203200_Stoner by John Williams
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a child, I had a thing for inanimate things. A sling, a pond, a pebble, a mica chip; they would catch my attention and hold it hostage. I would play for hours together with these silent, placid beings, drawing great solace from their harmless, non-fluctuating colour, and intention. Occasionally, a friend or two would drop in and ask in mock incredulity, ‘Don’t you ever get tired playing with them? They neither move nor speak.’ I wouldn’t answer. Only under my breath, after their departure, would pass a smile of assurance and utter, ‘They do.’ Continue reading

Book Review: Us by David Nicholls (2014)

21423525Us by David Nicholls

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Falling in love is a beautiful thing, more so when the love comes surreptitiously at your door which had opened many a times in past to find only empty autumns of loneliness and futile rains of solitude. Into such a heart, when love steps in, the heart does not remain the same, ever. Finding your reflection in another being becomes a hypnotic revelation,empowering you at once, to ironically, surrender your many identities to live in the nurturing shadow of your beloved. You accept sans hesitation, you relinquish without regret, you pursue without fatigue and you transform without ado. And when this spring continues to brighten your heart for seasons together, you lose track of the weather outside. You care no longer to check the forecast of the world beyond yourself, which still bears the unpredictability of floating emotional clouds. Being in love feels almost like a trance that you hope would never run out of steam.

But what if it does?  Continue reading

Book Review: Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert (1876)

Three TalesThree Tales by Gustave Flaubert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever wondered if stark realities of life were humans, how would they converse? What would death reveal to Satan which may surprise agony? What may joy surmise on pain that might recall God’s support? What might greed and insanity bring to table worthy of discussion in peace’s eyes? Where would loyalty stand should all others be permitted to share the same house?

Flaubert embarks on a bold journey, by giving voice to these very boundless giants and drawing a territory around them by erecting three walls of formidable texture and strength, painted with magnanimous coats of deceptive prose and magnetic rhythm. Reverberating within their throes are three teeming groups of conversations – Continue reading

Book Review: English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee (1988)

English, August: An Indian StoryEnglish, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Indecision will be your epitaph.

As the statement rung in my ear for more minutes than I cared to count, I stared at the mouth that just uttered it. No, it was not Agastya, the hero of this story but his best friend, Dhrubo, a brain-wracked, stoned, cajoled-to-distinguished young man who spent his time between perusing applications and criticising its submitters in an MNC bank in the megalopolitan city of Delhi. What light was he showing to Agastya, the young conqueror of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS as we call it), arguably the creamiest cadre one can land in this country? Apparently, the designations that elongate our names on our visiting cards belie the stark commonality in the ways we validate them.

Meet Agastya Sen. Or simple August (for the Sanskrit-naysayers). A 25-year-old-city-bred-booze-refuged-IAS-entrant-with-a-rural-posting lad. When he lands at Madna, Continue reading