Book Review – The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880)

the-brothers-karamazovThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I finished reading this book at precisely 0205 hours a week ago. The night still lay majestically over the impending dawn, and in its blackened stillness, swayed the echoes of this imperious book. The walls of my room, at once, turned into a fortress for Dostoevsky’s army of thoughts, and I, right in the middle of it, found myself besieged with its diverse, haphazard but mighty blizzard.

I am no stranger to this rambling Russian’s precocious visions and forbearance and yet, and yet, this work, swells much beyond even his own creator and spills over…. well, almost, everything. Continue reading

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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: A Heart So White by Javier Marías (1992)

heart-so-whiteA Heart So White by Javier Marías
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

What do I wish to hear? About the present? The past, may be? Or a little tune on the waiting future? Do I wish to eavesdrop on my best friend to find out what she thinks of me when I am not around? Am I tempted to open a letter addressed to my partner with no overt allusion to my name or salutation on the envelope? Am I inclined to return to an unknown place just so I can hear a random conversation complete in my mind? Do I wish to pause a few seconds longer at the traffic so I can hear the banter in the adjacent car? Am I willing to take that pain? Am I willing to take that time? Am I willing to listen?

Javier Marías’ tale is the silence that bids its time between two words, it is the unscrupulous clock that ticks for one and cheats another, it is the nebulous doubt that lies suspended between the free and the bound. Continue reading

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: Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag (2015)

41kf1cixtnl-_sx314_bo1204203200_Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

At my touch, the striking cover of this book leapt up and stood suspended at my eye-level. As if to escape this loggerhead-state, I bored through its skin amid a question – what does this image wish to convey? Unity? Mess? Greed? Asymmetry? Power? Victory? Abandonment? Confusion? Culture? Habit? All? None? Not quite able to coalesce all these floating words into a single bubble of appreciable mass, I threw aside my pondering gauntlet and opened the first page. I began reading, and read a little more; continued reading and didn’t pause till it was the last page. Once done, I closed the book with trembling hands and clutched it tight for what seemed like a long time. It had become a precious possession. Continue reading

Book Review: Life and Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee (1983)

Life and Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

“War is the father of all and king of all. Some he shows as gods, others as men. Some he makes slaves and others, free.”

But how does one differentiate between The Slave and The Free? Is that Man a slave, whose captivity by the victor frees him of his worldly expectations? Or should we call that Man, free who has no kin to bother about since they have all been enslaved in the war fire? Is it possible to live a life without succumbing to either side? Or is it inevitable to be one without being the other?  Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEFAN ZWEIG!

stefan_zweig

Happy Birthday, Mr. Zweig!

I am so glad to have met you this year. Through your stupendously masterful Chess Story, you got into my book world like a summer rain; unexpected but alluring. Discovering multiple angles of psychological reflections in a slim novella of 80 pages was like hitting a jackpot; that sudden halt one comes to during a leisure walk at the sight of a sparkling diamond. The multiple facets of its work bore also a resemblance to your upbringing and the belligerent environment you spent most of your life in.

There is something so serene and beautiful in your writing that I find all my senses inadvertently active, most of the time; they work quietly to create a cognitive lattice within which I discover known and unknown fabrics of human emotions, touching each of them to feel their texture and holding many of them, close to my heart. Continue reading

Book Review: Chess Story by Stefan Zweig (1941)

chess-story-novelChess Story by Stefan Zweig

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Wanting to play chess against yourself is a paradox, like jumping over your own shadow.”

But what fun is life if words like manic, insanity, paradox and contradiction are not put to test once in a while? Even at the cost of years of discipline and rationality?

Stefan Zweig surely put his own constructs up the wall when he created this ingenious piece of art. Yes, it was pure art; outright splendid form of art that overwhelms the realms of conventional thinking and forces the mind to stretch itself.

A World Chess Champion, heralded as one of the best ever to play the game, in his casual quest of pocketing a few dollars, enroute to a tournament, encounters a sudden change of fortune, when a remarkable twist of moves from a rather ordinary looking, albeit a tad hysterical, middle-aged man, hands him his first defeat in many years. Continue reading

Book Review: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1981)

The Unbearable Lightness of BeingThe Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s rare that I come across a title and intuitively tag it as an oxymoron; rarer still, I continue to silently contemplate the space lying between the duo.

Unbearable Lightness. How is lightness, unbearable? Isn’t it the right of heaviness for all I know? But the oxymoron is further granted a neighbor – Being. And that muddles up the equation for good.

What is Being? A floating mass of dissimilar silos, each absorbing and dispersing in surprisingly equal measure to stay afloat? Or a concrete structure of unified sketch without an exit, so everything entering its surface always lay within, if only in pale remnants? It’s the curse of contemplation that draws a bridge between this airborne lightness and earthbound heaviness and lets run a stream under it which, although, palpable, remains an enigma in life’s moonlit moments; Continue reading

Book Review – Hunger by Knut Hamsun (1890)

HungerHunger by Knut Hamsun
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A review of this book from my pen is akin to injustice. After all, what do I know of hunger? Something that loses its meaning with a hop to the kitchen? A need that vanishes with the stair-climbing to the canteen? A routine that knocks every four hours, only to be dispatched back to its den with a pouring of necessary and unnecessary stuff? A fuel that is available at an arm’s length? A six-lettered word that assumes greater importance in symbolic garb than its bare attire?

I have been fortunate. This beast has not imprisoned me beyond few days. But on those very few days, I have met him. On those few, religious days when I have been compelled to meet him, I have met him. On those unannounced stranded days when a morsel had been a long meeting away, I have met him. In the eyes; stark and dark. And he runs havoc. Continue reading