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
A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Borges and I
I: Do you like silence?
Borges: What silence?
I: The one you are filling up this space with right now?
Borges: This, is my ground. Contemplation, not Silence, my weapon. Thought, my battle.
I: A battle you are at advantage to withdraw from any time?
Borges (with a pre-emptive look): Is that so? Help me then, young lady.
I: Help you? With what?
Borges: With withdrawing from this battle.
I: Well, you are the originator. You should be the one to end it.
Borges (at once, hysterical): Oh I wish I was! How I wish I was! (settles back into sombreness)
Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go:
….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void.
So there I was – witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight.
My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, who lived under the tremulous skies of Nazism and dabbled in poetry and science fiction, magical realism and political sagas, span the length and breadth of the written word; presenting an inclusive, although explosive, picture of Bolaño’s thoughts that bodes well with establishing acquaintance with his ideologies too, perhaps. Continue reading
Blindness 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
It’s a bit premature that I am releasing an opinion from my thought cannon on Jorge Luis Borges. After all, I am in the midst of reading only my first Borges. But it appears that I am well acquainted with him. How do I say? Like how it doesn’t matter how long but how much we spend on a person that shapes our opinions about them. With Borges, few minutes are enough.
Documents say today is his death anniversary. But I am sure he is around; much like his declaration: Continue reading
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
This little novella can, at once, be discarded as a long, never-ending chapter on corporeal pursuits from the life book of a mindless rambler, a libidinous exhorter, a senile raconteur. And for some part, one might be right in doing so. If disaster has struck you due to your prolonged exposure to the skin junk processed and reprocessed on electronic and print media, you might not be cajoled to hold back even for a second from trashing this, their way. Continue reading
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kurt Vonnegut. Four syllables, once pronounced, suspends in the air like a rock star swishing his name into the air for chanters to latch on and treble the echo. Slaughter-House Five, god knows how many syllables (depending on stress-points of your tongue), once sprinkled from the nozzle of mouth, hangs again in the air like a vagabond wrapper not finding a parapet to land. Perhaps both could have gone their way and not bothered to float into my fairly tranquil world. But they chose to break the silence. So it goes. Continue reading
Ulysses by James Joyce
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Some works are not written; they are lived. The authors write not with ink, but with breaths. Every breath that finds its way in, sucks in a piece of the world and releases it into the author’s being, letting it permeate, gauge, prod, absorb and contemplate, and packages it like a farewell gift onto the back of the breath being puffed out. And since the saga of this breath-taking game continues for a few years till the red starts blinking, we get a work that resembles distilled crystals, found at the end of a purification process of worldly chemicals.
Fuelled by my love for Stephen , when I instinctively picked up Ulysses to read last year, I knew I was entering a labyrinth of diverse and encrypted observations, thanks to its inescapably cult reputation. I was aware I won’t understand half of it. And I felt okay to be in that space. Continue reading