Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami is fantasy-fiction that explores the twisted tale of its protagonist Kafka and also other characters who surrounKafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami is fantasy-fiction that explores the twisted tale of its protagonist Kafka and also other characters who surround his life, knowingly or unknowingly. The book begins with a hazy albeit interesting note about Kafka planning to run away from his home. He does so to escape his father’s oedipal prophecy from coming true. In a parallel plot a man named Nakata with weird powers is making a journey across the country to accomplish his vague mission, that of moving a particular “stone” before time runs out. Kafka takes refuge in an effeminate librarian’s (Oshima) secluded house and has surreal experiences in the backyard jungle of the house. Also he is drawn to Miss Saeki, the manager of the private library where Oshima works. It is interspersed with US records about a UFO incident that had occurred in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan.
What happens to Kafka? Does his father’s prophecy come true? Who is Miss Saeki? Of what significance is the UFO incident in the plot? Read the book, and yet you won’t be able to find complete answers to all these questions!
However you can read the book for the rapid pace in which the story is unraveled. It easily piques the reader’s interest and kindles the same amount of curiosity throughout the book. Also the characters are vividly etched and very little is left to the reader’s imagination.
Do not worry though, the plot has enough loose ends for you to pick your brains about the ending or the events that lead to it. Several questions are left unanswered, and also the basic concepts on which the story is built on is ambiguous. Also if you are remotely interested in philosophy then the half-hearted/forced philosophical thoughts that the characters spew unnecessarily will leave you completely disliking the science of philosophy.
Read it if you can bear riveting, mind boggling adventure with little answers to your questions....more
The poignant reminisces of the author can move you to tears. The book is about Manohar's childhood and his experiences that takes place in Madurai. HeThe poignant reminisces of the author can move you to tears. The book is about Manohar's childhood and his experiences that takes place in Madurai. He talks about the boyish pranks that anyone will be easily able to relate to. His work has rightly been compared to RK Narayan's Malgudi Days, not in a way that implicitly indicates him replicating his work, but in a way that honours him for recreating a naive and splendid set of childhood memories. The illustrations in the book are done by the author himself. And it was believed that these illustrations were done by him post an accident that led to his blurred vision. ...more
What happens when a group of people are repeatedly a target of violence? At first they are probably wounded. Then they lacerate. Before the scab can wWhat happens when a group of people are repeatedly a target of violence? At first they are probably wounded. Then they lacerate. Before the scab can wither another attack may ensure they suffer like an amputee. Our Moon Has Blood Clots written by Rahul Pandita talks about such a wound that is inflicted upon the Kashmiri Pandits over and over again.
The cover image (daunting in itself) shows a sepia toned photo of a worn out wooden door with an “Om” on it, with graphic fires eating the base of it. The author is forthright in expressing his anger and anguish for his lost home. In some places he makes no efforts to hide the bitterness. However, he also mourns for the lost tranquility of the valley. In his words, “Kashmir was like a deer’s neck in a wolf’s grip.”
A small search on Wikipedia shows that under several rulers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had subjugated Pandits to various levels of violence. Pandita does not highlight the entire timeline of these atrocities; however he chooses to throw light on the one particular incident that led his family to relocate to Jammu. He vividly recounts the horrific incident that took place on the night of 19thJanuary, 1990. Waking up to a harrowed household he tells us of the mosque’s loudspeaker that rang with “Naara-e-taqbeer, Allah ho Akbar!” a war cry. The night was plagued with fear-provoking war cries, one of them forcing the author’s mother to arm with a knife, not to attack but to kill the women of the household (including herself) to save their “honours”. The ditty that forced them to it was:
The author explains the Kashimiri ditty as “The crowd wanted to turn Kashmir into Pakistan,without the Pandit men, but with their women.”
The next morning it is understood as a “well-orchestrated” and coordinated event that was meant to scare the Kashmiri Pandits into exile. Scores of Pandit families flee from Srinagar, and are forced to live (mostly in refugee camps) in Jammu.Their woes do not end there. They are confined to crammed rooms; suffer from limited money, insufficient water supply and unaccustomed levels of heat. They also receive letters threatening them to leave their refugee camps as well. The diaspora gradually relocate to other parts of India.
The book also deals with the yesteryear generation of Pandits’ sufferings, through the first person accounts of Pandita’s uncle. He recounts the invasion of Kashmir by Pakistani tribes in 1947, this account being equally chilling.
The book ends with a longing promise, that of the author to return to the valley…permanently.
Read it to know the other side of Kashmiri struggle, to understand how mob mentality can disillusion people with the perception of “azaadi” (freedom). If Basharat Peer had walked into bookstores to find no books on the Kashmiri conflict (told by a Kashmiri), then this book is even more of a rarity....more
One may wonder how the story of a lone survivor of ship wreck can engage us. But Yann Martel does it skillfully, arousing our interest and curiosity aOne may wonder how the story of a lone survivor of ship wreck can engage us. But Yann Martel does it skillfully, arousing our interest and curiosity at appropriate situations. The ending is open ended and certainly leaves the reader with endless loops of debate. Enjoy the incredible spirit of human survival! ...more
I started my year with “Curfewed Night”. The book by Basharat Peer is blunt about the turmoil of Kashmiri people and its anti Indian stand. It may hurI started my year with “Curfewed Night”. The book by Basharat Peer is blunt about the turmoil of Kashmiri people and its anti Indian stand. It may hurt a few sentiments here and there, but it is what it is in Kashmir.
Kashmir, a princely state, was unfortunately straddling between the most politically sensitive states (to-be-countries). After tribal attacks from the Pakistani tribes, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, chose to sign a treaty of accession with India and also demanded a referendum later. From then on Kashmir became a turbulent terrain of problems. While Pakistan is still fighting to take control of parts of it, India holds that it is still a part of the diverse country and has granted it autonomy. Amidst all this the people in the state want “independence”. This book chronicles the bloody past and ongoing violence of Kashmir through the writer’s eyes.
Peer’s writing is beautifully descriptive. The valley is splendidly described. Sample this;
"Spring was the season of green mountains and meadows, blushing snow and the expanse of yellow mustard flowers in the fields around our village."
And the emotions are hauntingly deep. Read these lines:
"I hoped that some day the war they were fighting and the reasons for its existence would disappear like footsteps on winter snow in my childhood."
It is also candid in portraying emotions. The author talks about his villagers supporting Pakistan in a India vs. Pakistan cricket match. He says how crossing the border to become a militant was something every feisty youth wanted to do. This line says it all:
" 'You were in the police and already knew how to use guns. Then why did you go to Pakistan?' Yusuf laughed. 'Just to see Pakistan! And, then, it is like a certificate, a degree that you are a real militant! Otherwise, people wouldn't take me seriously.' "
He opines about schooling that is often disrupted because of the conflict. The author later shifts to Delhi for further studies, during the time when his parents escape a near mortal danger. His urge to write about Kashmir brings him back to his home, and he is inspired to write all that he knows about the valley. He writes about an ill-fated bride who faces extremities of inhumanity on her wedding night, about the torture chamber, PapaII, about the vicious cycle of bribery that kith of the deceased face to get their compensations, about road travels that were filled with multiple obstacles, about a boy who was forced to hold a bomb in his hand while it exploded, about dilapidated temples that was converted into bunkers, about shrinking land space in graveyards, about inhuman treatment, about lost hopes and about strangulatated dreams.
Peer makes you share his angst while provoking sympathy for the people in the conflict torn valley. His grief is clearly expressed in these lines:
"The plane took off after a violent sprint on the runway. Houses grew smaller, paddies turned into neat green squares, metal roads connecting villages shrank into black lines, and the coquettish clouds took new shapes. I turned away from the window. The poet had lied about paradise."
The book is definitely a story that many of us are unaware of. Read it, prepare to be emotionally devastated. ...more
The first time makes not a big impression. It talks only about women, parties, evening gowns, and most importantly wealthy men who would be "fit" enouThe first time makes not a big impression. It talks only about women, parties, evening gowns, and most importantly wealthy men who would be "fit" enough for being life partners. It sounded shallow and too frivolous. However a second read lifted off this veil and gave a new impression. It talks about women, their thoughts and first impressions (and also how they can necessarily not be the best and lasting impression). Values and virtues are neatly intertwined and narrated through the characters. Read it for the beautiful language, gentle romance and of course the biting sarcasm of Mr.Bennet!...more
In this poignant story of conflicts, Khaled Hosseini touches upon some issues in a tender manner. He narrates the story of two young children, one ofIn this poignant story of conflicts, Khaled Hosseini touches upon some issues in a tender manner. He narrates the story of two young children, one of Pashtun race (Amir)and another of Hazaara (Hassan), who grow up in an Afghanistan that is tormented under various political changes. Hosseini talks about the friendship that the two forge, and also of the barrier that exists despite the friendship. One evening changes the friendship they share, a single event marks the clear difference between the two (friends and race). What happens after Hassan realises that Amir may not stand up to atrocities that are inflicted upon him, because he belongs to an inferior Hazaara race? Amir moves to California to escape the troubled land. But a phone call years later forces him to come back. He faces bitter realities and also decides to face his mistakes. This is a novel that may emotionally wrench you. But it is so beautifully written that it leaves you with a tinge of hope in the end. As far as I see, the author has not written anything that might hurt the sentiments of either of the ethnic groups. Every character is sensitively portrayed. This is one of the many powerful lines: "But we were kids who had learned to crawl together and no history, no ethnicity, society or religion was going to change that either." This book is certainly a good read, it fills your soul with warmth and hope. A must read!...more
**spoiler alert** Lajja, it means shame in Bengali. There are two types of authors who write poorly about their nation. Those who either want to achie**spoiler alert** Lajja, it means shame in Bengali. There are two types of authors who write poorly about their nation. Those who either want to achieve fame quickly and those who want to point to their nation that it has wronged a certain section of its society. Taslima Nasreen in this book looks like she belongs to the second category. In a country where one will have to stifle their opinions (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-...), it must have been an arduous task (both physically and psychologically)for Nasreen to write this novel which bluntly puts facts and figures across the reader's face. It is about the Dutta family, living in Bangladesh. Belonging to a minority community (Hindu), the Dutta family faces multitude of problems solely for the reason of being a Hindu. The Babri Masjid demolition in India triggers violence that shakes the family. Each character is so clearly portrayed. As we come to know each character, we learn their past and present and how they are in major conflict with their ethnic and national identity. In truth, Dutta family represents the whole of the community. The act of a few barbaric people affect lives of million innocent citizens. Nasreen delves into the lives of each of Dutta's and shows how much of trauma they undergo. There were no vivid descriptions of the trouble that the missing member of the family undergoes, yet the innumerable probabilities haunt you. The book torments you, makes you introspect the purpose of religion. Read this book to: know how a national movement turned to into a language movement, understand when it comes to violence there is no religion, or for that matter even victims, know the trivial nature of politicians. Read the book! ...more
What a let down! After repeated recommendations I greatly looked forward to reading it. Unfortunately, the book disappointed me. Lack of plot or evenWhat a let down! After repeated recommendations I greatly looked forward to reading it. Unfortunately, the book disappointed me. Lack of plot or even a point in the whole book left my nerves wrecked. It is the plot about a boy who is rusticated from school and how he spends the following days. Each of the page contained either of the words-phoney, fuck or bastard. After a point, as a reader I lost interest. If you are someone who likes to read books that are hugely hyped, then go for it. Others, kindly ignore it....more
The book is by Mark Tully. What more! He takes us through 10 crucial topics related to India and explains to us with a neat clarity. Be it the untouchThe book is by Mark Tully. What more! He takes us through 10 crucial topics related to India and explains to us with a neat clarity. Be it the untouchablity issue or the Project Tiger, the explanation is neat and comprehensible. He has been the Indian correspondent for BBC for more than 30 years, no wonder he gives an insightful account of every issue. For every person who aspires to be a journalist, they must read this book. They will know the importance of sources and research. I strongly recommend this book to those who take interest in Indian affairs....more
Science can make some pick their best pair of trainers to run in the opposite direction. But Robin Cook can coax you that it was another ordinary inciScience can make some pick their best pair of trainers to run in the opposite direction. But Robin Cook can coax you that it was another ordinary incident recurring in our everyday lives. In eighth when many could not discuss "reproduction process" for Biology class I chanced upon this. The IVF process, the (physical and emotional)turmoil of undergoing it and also scandalous hospitals cashing in on the innocent treatment seeking patients is knit into a taut story. ...more