Wow. This was an amazing read. There are just so many layers to this story; it really does affect you on some level. It leaves you thinking about the...moreWow. This was an amazing read. There are just so many layers to this story; it really does affect you on some level. It leaves you thinking about the book long after it is over. Dina Dalal, the widow is trying to make ends meet. Manek Kohlah is leaving a peaceful loving life in the mountains to come to the ‘City by the Sea’ so he can study and survive in this world. Uncle and nephew, Ishvar and Omprakash Darji, tailors now, leave behind the cloak of untouchability to earn a living in the city, hoping they’ll make enough to go back and live comfortably at their village. Four different lives join together – find family in each other and connect with you in such a way that you hope it will turn out well for all of them. In a backdrop of Indira Gandhi’s emergency, dreams and hopes get shattered. Despite knowing how futile it is, you still continue reading till the end, you still wish for a happy ending for all in this story
My favourite lines:
(But he went so far away) When you go so far away, you change. Distance is a difficult thing
(The secret to survival) is to maintain a balance between hope and despair (less)
"The story of a poor man's life is written on his body, in a sharp pen." I did not expect to like or enjoy this book. As an Indian, I usually don’t li...more"The story of a poor man's life is written on his body, in a sharp pen." I did not expect to like or enjoy this book. As an Indian, I usually don’t like books written about the poor where they're describing abysmal living conditions or other horrible situations. It isn't a question of whether these things happen or not, but more a case of sensationalising and exaggerating the poor with the intention of gaining literary recognition or popularity as an author. All under the guise of showing the world the 'Real India'. I think its crap Its sad that they never write about the good stuff or the people who've had good lives and made it better. Good stuff doesn't sell books though. Besides, I think you can't know poor unless you've lived it or seen it - and I doubt any of these authors have.
Getting back to the book now, like I said - I thought I wouldn’t like this book. But I did. There wasn’t anything in there I could identify with as an Indian - but at the same time I can see a lot of it could have happened to different people. This was a refreshing read. The book is written as a series of letters to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who is supposed to be visiting India soon and is meant to show a side of India that the premier would not be privy to otherwise. It is written by Balram - a man who grew up in one of the nameless and faceless villages in India and made it out of the Darkness of his existence into the world of the rich - or the Light. "India is two countries in one: an India of Light, and an India of Darkness. The ocean brings light to my country. Every place on the map of India near the ocean is well off. But the river brings darkness to India - the black river "
Balram is ambitious - a trait a poor man is conditioned not to have. He's a thinker. And he uses these skills to make it out of his village and the rut every poor man is in. By observing. By thinking. By killing his employer. And building a new life for himself. His letter to the premier Wen describe how he came to be the entrepreneur he is today. With words that you wont forget long after you've finished this book.
Balram writes a lot about the relationship between a servant and his employer - and on some level this doesn’t apply only to the poor and their richer masters but to everyone who depends on another for their livelihood.
Balram's thoughts when his employer Ashok is contemplating life after his wife has just left him: - "The point of living? The point of your living is that if you die, who's going to pay me three and a half thousand rupees a month?"
- "It squeezed my heart to see him suffer like this—but where my genuine concern for him ended and where my self-interest began, I could not tell: no servant can ever tell what the motives of his heart are. Do we loathe our masters behind a facade of love—or do we love them behind a facade of loathing?"
And a very interesting way of describing why the poor stay poor with an analogy on chickens in a rooster coup: Hundreds of pale hens and brightly colored roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages ….jostling just for breathing space…On the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning young butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of a recently chopped-up chicken, still oleaginous with a coating of dark blood. The roosters in the coop smell the blood from above. They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they're next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop" . . "Every day, on the roads of Delhi, some chauffeur is driving an empty car with a black suitcase sitting on the backseat. Inside that suitcase is a million, two million rupees; more money than that chauffeur will see in his lifetime. If he took the money he could go to America, Australia, anywhere, and start a new life. He could go inside the five-star hotels he has dreamed about all his life and only seen from the outside. He could take his family to Goa, to England. Yet he takes that black suitcase where his master wants. He puts it down where he is meant to, and never touches a rupee. Why? Because Indians are the world's most honest people, like the prime minister's booklet will inform you? No. It's because 99.9 percent of us are caught in the Rooster Coop just like those poor guys in the poultry market."
And some more interesting lines: - "You were looking for the key for years / But the door was always open!"
- But what is the use of winning a battle when you don't even know that there is a war going on?
This isn't a book to read if you want to know the "real India". But it is entertaining. And what makes it a good book are words like the ones I've quoted above - observations that you realise have a grain of truth in them. Observations that are put in a unique manner that made me turn the page and realise this is good fiction.(less)
I don't know what to put down in this review. I'm not even sure what I feel about this book - This isn't one that is going to make any lasting impact...moreI don't know what to put down in this review. I'm not even sure what I feel about this book - This isn't one that is going to make any lasting impact or that I'm going to be remembering for long Its different when you see things from a kids point of view. When you're too young to be expected to understand what is going on and so only get half the information and then with a child's innocence start looking around for your own experiences to fill in the missing blanks. Which is what this story is about. Then again, if this story is for the YA category, then it doesn't begin doing the Holocaust justice and I'm not sure you want to leave a kid with this version of a tragic history. A lot of the reviews that I've read slam this book. I find I cannot find any emotion at all. If the author intended for this to be from a different POV and childs' at that, then yes, he did but it could have been so much more. The writing was simple, which it had to be since it was from a kid's point of view. I'm not sure what there was so much emphasis on Bruno not getting the pronunciations right. Despite being corrected throughout the book, he kept calling Auschwitz as "Out-With" and Der Führer as "The Fury". Even for a kid, that was just plain annoying. And then for a kid who speaks German to think Heil Hitler means "Goodbye for now, have a pleasant afternoon"!! It's a short 224 pages. Read the book and make your own opinion. (less)
I really expected this to be a boring dull book that i wouldn't like. It turned out to be not so bad. Its a really quick read.. and i mean really quic...moreI really expected this to be a boring dull book that i wouldn't like. It turned out to be not so bad. Its a really quick read.. and i mean really quick. Amsterdam is basically written from the POV of Clive and Vernon, a composer and a newspaper editor - good friends who've both been lovers of the now dead Molly Lane. Considering how short the book was, its a lil hard to write anything more on this story that the book blurb above already gives away. Its amazing how stupidity can ruin a friendship. That's bout all i have to say. Although i kinda knew what was coming at the ending, it was still refreshing the way it ended. Considering this this one won the Booker Prize, I'm going to put this one in the category of 'reasons why award winning books are not all they say there are'. I mean, the book was good. McEwan has an unique style of writing and i liked that a lot of it was intellectual. But it really wasn't deserves-to-be-award-winning good.
My favourite lines: "They could manage your descent, but they couldn't prevent it." (On doctors)
"He drifted helplessly into a daydream, an elaborate story about someone hiding behind a rock, waiting to kill him. Now and then he glanced over his shoulder. He knew this feeling well because he often hiked alone. There was always a reluctance to be overcome. It was an act of will, a tussle with instinct, to keep walking away from the nearest people, from shelter, warmth, and help. A sense of scale habituated to the daily perspectives of rooms and streets was suddenly affronted by a colossal emptiness. The mass of rock rising above the valley was one long frown set in stone. The hiss and thunder of the stream was the very language of threat. His shrinking spirit and all his basic inclinations told him that it was foolish and unnecessary to keep on, that he was making a mistake."(less)
Ummm, i'm not really sure what to say on this one The Graveyard Book was an unusual, refreshing and interesting read. Certainly havent read anything li...moreUmmm, i'm not really sure what to say on this one The Graveyard Book was an unusual, refreshing and interesting read. Certainly havent read anything like it before.
I loved the character development, feels like its been a long time since i read a book where this was paid attention to. I really like Silas and Liza the best. While Bod has different relationships with most of the inhabitants of the graveyard, the ones with Silas and Liza were the most fun to read. Some of his conversations with Silas were deep and thought provoking and yet and the same time light in nature in that he was speaking to a young boy. At some times i just really wanted to smack Bod for behaving like a kid, but then i guess that was the whole point.
The end was a bit too abrupt for me. Or maybe thats because i've been reading this book real slow for almost a month now and suddenly it was over. But i did feel it was wrapped without a lot of explanation. Like why the Jacks needed to kill the boy. There were just a couple of lines on this part. And what killer doesnt kill the main object of his mission first and then finish of the others. I mean C'mon. There also wasnt any explanation on why Bod was taken into the graveyard and how the Lady on the Grey comes into this picture.
All in all though, this was a lovely story. A unique one. Which is probably why it won those awards.
My favourite lines: "So the people buried in the ground on the other side of the fence are bad people?” Silas raised one perfect eyebrow. “Mm? Oh, not at all. Let’s see, it’s been a while since I’ve been down that way. But I don’t remember anyone particularly evil. Remember, in days gone by you could be hanged for stealing a shilling. And there are always people who find their lives have become so unsupportable they believe the best thing they could do would be to hasten their transition to another plane of existence.” “They kill themselves, you mean?” said Bod. He was about eight years old, wide-eyed and inquisitive, and he was not stupid. “Indeed.” “Does it work? Are they happier dead?” “Sometimes. Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean"(less)
ok, So.. twins are born. From 2 different eggs. They have twin-ly tendencies. They behave like children and accidents and other things happen. Around t...moreok, So.. twins are born. From 2 different eggs. They have twin-ly tendencies. They behave like children and accidents and other things happen. Around them other events unfold. Family, love - Forbidden Love, Politics, tradition...all come together centred around the arrival (and then) departure of Our Sophie Mol.
This is the basic gist of this book. but the way the story is written really makes it a very good read. I first tried reading this one ages ago and had quickly put in down then. Those initial pages didn't make a lotta sense then to want to continue.
So when I picked it up again this time (mostly for lack of anything else to read at home in India) I wasn't expecting much. I don't think I've read anything with this style of writing before, and that's what makes this an awesome read. The parts where the children make observations on the things around them and the way things are learned by rote and not understood and hence the emphasis on Prer NUN sea ayshun was awesome and also relatable in many ways.
The capitalizing Significant Words and runningtogether other words did the trick. Like the parts about the Bar Nowl and when Ammu tells Rahel to Stop-it and so she Stopiteds. The story goes back and forth in a very easy manner, and its only the style of writing and flashbacks that make this story a remarkable account of how the small things build up to a tragedy that changes lives forever. I can see why this book won a Booker Prize.(less)
I read this back in November, and then forgot about it, which should give you an idea of how this review is going to be.
To be honest, I did like this...moreI read this back in November, and then forgot about it, which should give you an idea of how this review is going to be.
To be honest, I did like this book while i was reading it. Christopher's quest to do all the snazzy things he does and the narration in the quirkily autistic way makes a charming reading. The numbering of the chapters in prime numbers was innovative. The drawings, not so much. From what I've read/heard about autism and reviews on this book so far, it apparently does give a pretty accurate account of what dealing with an autistic kid would be like, and that should make this a good book.
But a great book? errmmm No.
An award winning book? I wouldn't think so.
The language was easy flowing and simple and hence made me think this would make a good read as a text book in 5th grade. In fact, my Sis had been asked to review this one as part of her college projects. Ok, now I'm not sure how that helps explain my point, but, well, never mind.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I was maybe expecting too much out of it and it delivered something completely different and unexpected. Not bad unexpected but was-hoping-for-much-more unexpected
Guess that's a lesson for me. A book doesn't have to be 300+ pages, have intricate plots or lots of things happening on many different levels and all those other things. A thin volume from a childs point of view might also do (typing it out didn't help. I still don't believe it. this book won an award!)
Another lesson for me is to try and find a library so I can borrow books like this and not spend money on a book just cause it has a fancy jacket or (lately) 'Winner or ___ Award' written on the jacket cover. (Yes, yes. I admit it, I'm a sucker for fancy and/or weird jacket covers - not always a happy ending to that story but I'll never learn)(less)