The book depicts the Indian family and society caught in the whirlwind of rapid change brought about by the nationalist movement and a high-strung BriThe book depicts the Indian family and society caught in the whirlwind of rapid change brought about by the nationalist movement and a high-strung British administration. The year is 1942 and freedom struggle is at its climax while the British are pushed to the wall in their WW II war effort. Values such as loyalty, patriotism, courage and integrity are now subject to deep scrutiny, and it is obvious that moral dilemmas come to the fore as individuals confront decisive moments of their lives.
Magistrate Buta Singh’s family, the focus of the story, has a history of loyalty and opposition to British rule dating back to four generations. The ambivalence is best described by the British Deputy Commissioner, Taylor, in these words, “In a way you have the history of Indo-British relationships represented by Buta Singh’s family tree.” In the story we find Buta Singh’s loyalty for British pitted against his love for family life, and his son Sher Singh’s patriotism and political ambition pitted against his willingness to compromise on principles. Those free from moral dilemma are the ones consumed by passions such as deep religious conviction (Buta’s wife Sabhrai) or sexual liaisons (Madan, Champak, Beena and Shunno).
Khushwant Singh employs an unconventional style to develop his story - each chapter begins with his philosophizing on a related issue before carrying the story forward. Thus he deliberates on monsoon, religion, sexual conduct of Indian couples, childbirth, a married person’s power of anticipation of the spouse’s behavior and thought in his trademark manner, tinged with humor and sex. The sex subplots are developed to a high point of anticipation but then left midway without informing us how the forbidden acts impacted the universe of the novel in the end.
The novel derives its title from Sher Singh’s statement made to his mother, “Spring will come to our land once more, Once more the nightingale will sing”. Towards the end of the story Sher’s mother, now gravely ill, whispers, “I shall not hear the nightingales, my son.” Poignant moments indeed. ...more
The quiet and gentle narration of the proceedings by Turgenev belies the stormy circumstances that destroy the emotional wellbeing of the main charactThe quiet and gentle narration of the proceedings by Turgenev belies the stormy circumstances that destroy the emotional wellbeing of the main characters. The novelist presents the Russian rural scenes, the nature and even emotional outbursts in a subdued tone. The debates about Russian intelligentsia bring out some loud arguments between hero Lavretsky and his university friend Mikhalevich, and Lavretsky and Panshin, but the inner turmoil of the hero and Liza during their burgeoning romance do not find adequate expression in the novel.
The best descriptions are reserved for the spring air, the orange of the night sky, the nightingale song and the majestic lime trees in the garden. Liza, the heroine of the story, is presented as a meek and self-denying spiritual soft heart, ready to do anything for the sake of moral virtue. Lavretsky's fashionable and manipulative wife is a perfect counterweight to Liza, ready to pounce upon the willing like a “lioness”. Lavretsky, with his intellectual leanings, self-doubts and tender misgivings, is trapped between the two women.
The translation by Richard Freeborn perfectly retains the stillness of the original novel. The introductory essay explains well the use of ‘Home’ in the title instead of more popular ‘Nest’ in earlier translations. Summing up the work the writer of the introduction says, “The impossibility of happiness is the novel’s underlying theme”. How true. ...more
Some twenty years ago every Indian (in South Asia) knew how to start a Bajaj scooter that ran out of fuel midway. It was a simple trick of just reclinSome twenty years ago every Indian (in South Asia) knew how to start a Bajaj scooter that ran out of fuel midway. It was a simple trick of just reclining the engine side of the scooter towards the ground and allowing the residual fuel in the engine to flow to the required place. It was a common sight on the roads those days.
Reading River of Death brought back memories of Bajaj days as the book appeared to me as the outcome of a convoluted effort on the part of a legendary writer to run the show somehow with the fast-depleting creative juices. So his endeavor could take the reader just up to the next fuel bunk, not on a joy ride.
The novel has all the elements to build a great story with: Nazi history, a wartime heist, a stealthy escape from aerial bombardment, super wealthy guy planning for a jungle mission, a dangerous Amazon expedition, a helicopter crash, Indian tribes with their blowguns and poisonous darts, and a final commando action. What is more, the main protagonist has a personal heartbreak to goad him on. But these parts do not make a great whole and there is a discordant note throughout the narrative. The story is highly predictable and not quite absorbing.
River of Death lacks the life force that makes Alistair MacLean 's earlier novels such remarkable page turners....more
The Stories of Gothic Macabre are indeed chilling, bizarre and fear-inducing. The range of the subjects and geography is huge. Disturbing events thatThe Stories of Gothic Macabre are indeed chilling, bizarre and fear-inducing. The range of the subjects and geography is huge. Disturbing events that shook the world from the 18th century to the twenty first, from USA to Japan, through England, Germany, Australia and so on make up this black bouquet of articles. The strange stories read like fictions but they are actual incidents that shook the community where they took place. Incidents such as an American radiographer stealing a dead body from the hospital and living with her rotting body as if she was his lady-love, an American native, being possessed by an evil cannibalistic spirit eating his wife and six kids, how in the nineteenth century the executed criminals' bodies were used in scientific experiments thrown open to the public are bound to rattle the strongest of hearts.
Besides simple criminality these stories also reflect the strange ways human psyche can behave under the spell of certain thinking and reasoning. The stories provide a glimpse into the uncanny possibilities of human cognition and promise a great reading experience....more
Translators of Sarala Devi's writings in this book: Sachidananda Mohanty, Jatindra K. Nayak, Himansu S. Mohapatra, Paul St. Pierre, Jayaprakash ParamagTranslators of Sarala Devi's writings in this book: Sachidananda Mohanty, Jatindra K. Nayak, Himansu S. Mohapatra, Paul St. Pierre, Jayaprakash Paramaguru, Akhtar Jamal Khan, Sangram Jena, Priyadarshi Patnaik, Chinmay Kumar Hota , Anuj Khatua, Anil Pradhan, Prasanna Kumar Purohit, Bikram K. Das, Snehaprava Das
Sundarbans is the main protagonist of The Hungry Tide and it throws up apt metaphors for love, life and relationship that insinuate into the cruel lanSundarbans is the main protagonist of The Hungry Tide and it throws up apt metaphors for love, life and relationship that insinuate into the cruel landscape. Not only are the tides hungry, an irrepressible craving characterises the earth, flora, fauna and humans who make these strange islands their home. The refugees, craving for something familiar, abandon their government settlement in Central India to sneak into these hostile environment, where hungry tigers lurch at every corner; the mud banks try to suck you to the depths of the earth; and then the hungry winds wait to smash you to smithereens. The undying faith in a mythical goddess, Bon Bibi sustains the settlers in body and spirit.
Yet these unsympathetic surroundings attract normal human beings like Piya, Kanai, Nilima, Nirmal and Fokir to face the challenges of nature, human emotions and of relationship. They emerge as human beings true to their inner urges-free from fear, hypocrisy or intricacy. Amitav Ghosh knits the wefts and warps of nature and human relationship into a unique fabric. ...more
A murder takes place in a Hallowe'en party of a twelve year old girl who had insistently bragged about having seen a murder take place two or so yearsA murder takes place in a Hallowe'en party of a twelve year old girl who had insistently bragged about having seen a murder take place two or so years ago. Hercule Poirot steps in and goes through the rural community's history, geography and politics with fine-tooth comb. It is indeed a convoluted bit of investigation which failed to retain my attention uniformly throughout.
I found three things hard to digest. First, most of those present when Joyce repeatedly bragged about being an witness to a murder claimed that they had not taken note of the utterance, especially when the girl herself gets murdered during the party. Second, why should everybody claim that some psychopaths let loose by the crowded health system might have committed all the murders that had taken place in the locality? Finally, the allusion to a Greek myth, sacrifice and all, was rather a weak link. ...more
So What Happens to Me? builds up great expectations as the hijacking plot is discussed. The execution part fizzles out as sudden deaths of the pilotsSo What Happens to Me? builds up great expectations as the hijacking plot is discussed. The execution part fizzles out as sudden deaths of the pilots by heart attack and unexpected death due to fight were introduced without much conviction. Too many improbable, contrived and unexpected plot devices are used to carry the story forward.
Chase in 1970's appears to have lost some sting he had in the 40's to 60's. Nevertheless the Chase touch succeeds in making the proceedings gripping and juicy. ...more
The main characters Satyajit and Suruchi are hard nuts to crack. Their daughter is no less unshakable. They are hell-bent on setting up a community onThe main characters Satyajit and Suruchi are hard nuts to crack. Their daughter is no less unshakable. They are hell-bent on setting up a community on Gandhian principles of self-sufficiency, righteousness and cooperation. But modern India's aspirations to grow fast come as a challenge to these simplistic values. The designs of a technology driven modern nation is drawn by a young foreign educated engineer who is determined to uproot the Gandhian village and set up the steel mill to supply raw material for India's weapons factories. They come face to face and the result is more rigidity in their stands. The problem is all of them are first-grade bores in the context of a fiction. The engineer is not able to get over his fixated persona to appear romantic in the company of the amiable daughter of Satyajit.
While all these take place in the quaint corner of India, Chinese aggression looms large over India's northern borders. Satyajit wants to melt the Chinese aggressor's heart with, what else, Gandhian principles. The result is a highly contrived and many layered narrative.
We read this book as our prescribed text in college. The stories contained in this collection are responsible for kindling in me a love for literatureWe read this book as our prescribed text in college. The stories contained in this collection are responsible for kindling in me a love for literature and English language. I salute the great teachers who taught them to us, trying their best to take us, 16 year olds,to a totally unknown world. ...more