If you've loved The Shadow of the Wind, The Book Thief, The Reader, 84 Charing Cross Road here's another book you will enjoy.
Before I begin my If you've loved The Shadow of the Wind, The Book Thief, The Reader, 84 Charing Cross Road here's another book you will enjoy.
Before I begin my review of the Book about a Book, let me talk about how it came to me. Much like the Sarajevo Haggadah, my copy of People of the Book, too, travelled all the way from Montana, USA, to Solan, India: the most wonderful birthday gift from my dear fellow Oxon, Natalia Kolnik, to whom the book originally belonged and who was kind enough to send me her copy.
Reading it was, therefore, doubly fun because Natalia had marked her favourite bits in the book and so, when I marked mine, the book began to carry a bit of our own history, a part of our souls. (Talk about The Shadow of the Wind nostalgia!)
I think, after a very long time, I have fallen so much in love with a book. To start with, this book is a perfect part of myself: a bit of history and a bit of literature, love for the past and a passion for stories. No book could summarise the half archaeologist, half literature nerd that I am, as well as this one.
No book has brought back to me Daniel Sempere, Liesl Meminger or Shosanna from Inglourious Basterds and reminded me what I love best about Natalie Dormer, especially her role as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors as this one. Trust me, Lola, Ruti, Zahra, Nura are all fabulous reminders of these other characters and personally, I am going to treasure them as my fictional friends forever!
Why, then, did I dock off one star, you ask? Because of Hanna Heath herself! Hanna, the one charcter who could have been me in the book, considering that she's a conservator who loves books, was a sheer disappointment. She's amazingly whiney, self pitying, self doubting charcter whose parts are the most BORING to read. As a result, I dragged through what I had originally expected to enjoy, sometimes even fell asleep or skipped entire bits, only to re-read them later. If the bits about Lola, Ruti and Zahra leave you wanting for more, the bits about Hanna make you wish they had never been written. Add the third rate 'Da Vinci Code'-esque end to Hanna's bit and you're almost tempted to rip the last few pages apart.
However, the merit of the subplots is way too high to judge the whole thing by Hanna Heath and her moping, miserable, maddening nonsense. Hence four stars and lots of good memories taken home from this beautiful book!...more
Let me begin this review with a simple truth:Binodini is a temptress. No, not just for the two men in the novel, but also for the Reader. If, like me,Let me begin this review with a simple truth:Binodini is a temptress. No, not just for the two men in the novel, but also for the Reader. If, like me, you, too started this book right before your exams, she's going to pull you in until you finish it, making you incapable of reading everything else.
Now, coming to the book: If you've not read Chokher Bali for whatever reason and do not know Tagore, trust me, you're on the losing end! This book is a true classic and there's beautiful poetry interspersed between scenes and dialogues, some really fluid description that's worth reading and some true philosophy and life lessons buried deep within.
For the archaeologist in me, this is a true treat because there's so much to take out from it than just the story. You can almost see the whole thing happening in front of you. You can feel every emotion even that which a minor character may be experiencing and there's this deep lingering scent of incense that seems to waft from the story towards you, at once intoxicating and purifying.
Seriously, no review can recreate what Chokher Bali brings to you when you read it. The vast range of perspicacity Tagore's storytelling possesses is enchanting, exhilarating. It lingers in the air like that incense I just spoke about. It's calming. It's profound. You shouldn't even be reading this review anymore. No, you should be searching for the book on Amazon as I go on rambling about it like a mad person....more
As a regular book reviewer, I am always in a Catch 22 situation when it comes to reviewing books that have been personally sent to me.
However, beingAs a regular book reviewer, I am always in a Catch 22 situation when it comes to reviewing books that have been personally sent to me.
However, being absolutely fair to the job of reviewing something another might pick up, I have a long review for this one that will delve deeply into the positives and the negatives of this book.
1. It's a rather fast paced book, the kind you can read while having a long soak in the tub or on a bus ride.
2. The story, to be very fair, is quite faithful to the life in the IIT(I happened to be in IIT Kanpur when the book reached me so, yes, I could relate).
3. For a first time author, the pop culture references, certain expressions and phrases, did quite a good job of making the characters seem more relatable. That being said, the expression does need more polishing, still.
1. At the very offset, there's a rather Two States-ish subplot, that gave a) a very stale flavour to the first background story itself b) a very stereotypical picture of the "foreigners" and their attitude towards India. For someone like me, who is as Indian as they make it but whose closest friends are "foreigners" I didn't quite like the depiction of a European/American person in this story. To me, the fact that every "white" person had some sort of a "racially superior" shade to his/her character was very unpalatable and nothing short of reverse racism.
2. Why is the author bent on showing heroes? The young India needs heroines too! Why is it that a woman who is independent, wants to work after marriage and makes friends with the "other" (or for that matter any) gender depicted as, to use the author's words, "a vamp", while her possessive, chauvinistic, violent husband still a hero in the story?
3. Why is it that all the heroes, when they fall in love, eulogise women who give up their careers, don't have any ambitions, don't stand up for their own rights (remember, if they do, they are vamps!) and are "dreamy" and think of themselves as someone who "is to be taken care of by a knight-in-shining-armour" and have absolutely no self esteem? What kind of game changing, path breaking hero would any of these four patriots be if they don't support one of the biggest causes all of India (media and socialists alike) is fighting for?
Far from gender equality, there were repeated instances of women who were far from what real girls, by and large are like, and based on some fantastic notion that combines Manu's idea of women with a soap opera wife.
4. Coming to the ease of the author with narration, there are quite a few rough patches in narration as well as grammatical errors, which I solely blame on editors and proof-readers. It's an author's job to write but a publishing team's job to make it presentable. You cannot roughly hew a couple of pages and leave it to a reader to punctuate, correct and tidy up the mess, dear publisher!
Unlike other reviews, I would, purely with the intention to be helpful and not patronising, offer the author a few suggestions:
1. Please, please remember that no society can change with just one half of the society participating in bringing about the change and the other half being represented as helpers/supporters/partners-in-bed. Your female characters need to be more than docile daughters, loving wives and adoring admirers.
2. Chetan Bhagat is not someone to model your novel after. Manju Kapoor, Vikram Seth, Navtej Sarna, Shashi Tharoor or Upmanyu Chatterjee might come in handy, though!
3. Read, my friend. Your USP is your expression. Now your job is to hone it and for that, read all the books you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, as long as ever you can. Reading makes writing more effortless.
4. Last one and this is for the publishers: Get a new team of editors, proofreaders and reviewers!...more
It was like Life suddenly walking up to you for a hug! Like a long lost friend returned after years. That Harry-Hermione conversations are still the bIt was like Life suddenly walking up to you for a hug! Like a long lost friend returned after years. That Harry-Hermione conversations are still the best, that Draco Malfoy would be the father of my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE KID of the series just added to the icing on the cake called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!
I have so much to say but I'll wait for friends to finish reading this one before my Review#2!
Till then, I'm just going to bore my family by gushing about it!...more
Okay, I'm ready to believe that I love Shakespeare a LOT but how couldn't you? Especially after something so wonderful as this? It's lighthearted, it'Okay, I'm ready to believe that I love Shakespeare a LOT but how couldn't you? Especially after something so wonderful as this? It's lighthearted, it's funny and it keeps you hooked until the end where, once again, that old bard manages to "please you everyday."
I topped up my reading with the Audible narration by Paul Scofield, Siobhan McKenna and John Neville, which enhanced my reading experience even more. For the life of me, I can't believe there were only three narrators because each character had a different voice. The best bit was the Clown's songs, replete with music, the vendor calling out in the Street Scene with Antonio and Sebastian, and just the appropriate background noises and sounds in EVERY SINGLE SCENE! I totally recommend you read it along with Audible because it just makes the play so much funnier, wittier and the music is really to die for! Perfect read when you want to read something that sounds as high and mighty as Shakespeare but want to keep it light, and have a few laughs along....more
The first thing that I absolutely loved about Tara is you simply can't keep it down! No, you open it, your eyes skim through the setting and before yThe first thing that I absolutely loved about Tara is you simply can't keep it down! No, you open it, your eyes skim through the setting and before you know, it has grabbed you and thrown you into the beautiful, witty, twisted and painfully sad world of the conjoined twins, Chandan and Tara.
What starts as a play about two self sufficient siblings, in a famiky where the mother favours the daughter and the father favours the son, slowly evolves into a beautiful and horrifying tale of parental preference for the male, guilt, making amends, secrets and lies.
Tara is gorgeous! It's hauntingly gorgeous! I've read so many plays and yet I've never read anything like this before. Mahesh Dattani is clearly one of the best playwrights in India....more
Okay, I know what's coming: This is so depressing! It made me want to jump off a cliff! So why did I like it?
Simply because it is beautifully heartbreOkay, I know what's coming: This is so depressing! It made me want to jump off a cliff! So why did I like it?
Simply because it is beautifully heartbreaking? Why does a reader like books by Khaled Hosseni? What makes Hamlet such a beautiful tragedy?
Narration! And Arthur Miller is a master of the art of narration! Hate it, love it but you can't deny how powerful it is. Willy Loman, his madness, his imperfections:that's something you see all around you, even experience yourself sometimes.
I think the one thing that makes it so beautiful is the feelings, the emotions, the situations in the play are all pervasive. You've seen something like it inside your own house or around you. You come across people battling ambition, broken dreams, trying and giving up again. You meet people who lie to themselves everyday to evade the pain or to make it more bearable.
Linda, Biff, Happy, Willy and even Ben are everywhere. The world is full of them! What Miller does is he brings out the beauty in the monotony and the everyday life of these common, not so glamorous people and their lives.
Liking this play doesn't make me depressed because it's like being a fan of stream of consciousness: you may not relate to everything in it, but somewhere it strikes a bell of familiarity.
That, dear Reader, is Death of a Salesman for you!...more
First off, I want to meet those critics of Robert Browning, who said he was "nothing more than the husband of a famous poet, Elizabeth Barret."
I wantFirst off, I want to meet those critics of Robert Browning, who said he was "nothing more than the husband of a famous poet, Elizabeth Barret."
I want to point it out to them that while they may be factually correct and got the relationship right, they couldn't be more mistaken in assuming that he was "nothing more" than her husband.
I'm sorry, bring me a poet who captures the psychology and the variations of human mind better than Browning! And no, I'm not just talking about the obsessive, neurotic love of the Duke in 'My Last Duchess' or 'Porphyria's Lover' !
Look at Prospice, where he's ready to brave death, look at Fra Lippo Lippi , which is raw poetic GENIUS! And look at Childe Roland!
Just a dream, you say? I think not! This poem may have been dream-inspired but is nothing short of the pure genius Coleridge showed in Kubla Khan!
A knight-in-training led astray by an old, morally defective cripple, comes across a waste land instead of a battlefield, doubts his choice of profession, wonders whether it was wise to 'take the road frequently taken' (see what I did there?), remembers true knights who earned glory and the fake ones who stole it and then makes peace with what he has, and the dark tower he has sought to enter.
Does this speak of despair to you? Or does it sound like PB Shelley's keynote in 'Ode to the West Wind'? The triumph of hope over deapair? The will to go on?
The wasteland here is Browning's own poetic waste land, his lack of inspiration and the end note of the poem is his determination to brave the poetic waste land. He holds true poets of the past in high esteem and is glad that he did not steal poetic glory like the overrated poets of yesteryears. No, he is determined to use this wasteland as inspiration and earn whatever it gives him.
For me, it gave him an edge and made him, now, more than ever, one of my favourite poets. To hell with critics who could not appreciate him then and to hell with fools who fail to appreciate him now! Browning may have been underrated in his time but find me a better Psychological Victorian Poet, with as much range and depth as him. I double dare the world there's none!...more
This one came to me directly through the author for a book review and I have to be completely honest about the review.
I've never been a fan of RamayanThis one came to me directly through the author for a book review and I have to be completely honest about the review.
I've never been a fan of Ramayana despite being raised a Brahmin that couldn't be more Ramayana loving, with all its Ram Naumi Pujas and Dussehra and Diwali festivities. To me, it was a story placed wrongly in history, full of misogyny, overhyped, overrated, cause of many riots even today..
Which is why I had to read an alternative take on it. I have never been averse to alternate takes on anything because it might make me look at the same story from a different angle.
Well guess what? This take did! Shubha Vilas' Ramayana isn't so much about what the story was but about the underlying philosophy of it. It's detailed, it's hard hitting. It's like someone explaining The Waste Land to you - you won't always get it but you will find yourself at peace, indescribably at peace!
Do I recommend it? I do but only if you have read the Ramayana first. You need to kniw the story to get the story and even though the retelling is powerful, you must be familiar eith the original so that you can have the most meaningful debates insode your head!...more