Jeyamohan is a bilingual writer in both Malayalam and Tamil. This autobiographical novel is the basis for the Malayalam film "Ozhimuri". Both the bookJeyamohan is a bilingual writer in both Malayalam and Tamil. This autobiographical novel is the basis for the Malayalam film "Ozhimuri". Both the book and the movie are great.
Very few people are aware that many castes in Kerala are still matrilineal, at least in name: the Kshatriyas and Nairs being the most prominent. This system is prone to the production of awesome matriarchs: Jeyamohan's paternal grandmother was one of them. In fact, she was so terrible that his grandfather was forced to leave her, and his father carried the scars of childhood for the rest of his life.
Nagercoil, the author's native place, was part of the erstwhile Travancore state. Now it is a part of Tamil Nadu. Most of the people here are bilingual: they speak both Malayalam and Tamil. Another interesting fact is that here you can find Nairs following a patrilineal system. Constantly reminded of the sad fate of his father, the author's dad married from a patrilineal family and kept his wife and son in absolute submission.
So Jeyamohan grew up in a family consisting of a tyrannical grandmother, a dictatorial father and a creative yet submissive mother. It marked him for life and almost drove him to suicide: but he took the better way out - he started writing.
This is a very important book, though not an easy one to read. Ishmael's style leaves a lot to be desired, and he is especially weak, I feel, when heThis is a very important book, though not an easy one to read. Ishmael's style leaves a lot to be desired, and he is especially weak, I feel, when he tries to be philosophical. But he makes up for that with the descriptions of war, to the depravity which human beings can descend to. The fact that he does this with a child's candour, unemotionally, makes it even more disturbing.
Children can be easily moulded. And cruelty comes easily to children, because they do not think of it as "cruel" in the adult sense. These child soldiers bury men alive with the same enthusiasm and curiosity as a child pulling wings off a butterfly and watching it squirm. Values such as the difference between "kindness" and "cruelty" have to be taught to children-but these boy soldiers of Sierra Leone, most of whom have seen their family and friends massacred mercilessly, have been fed only drugs and hatred. War is their religion, and their gods are Rambo and Shwarznegger.
I salute Ishmael for the courage to come out of it. At the same time, I weep for the thousands who did not....more
Actually I wasn't going to review this book at all, since I read it way back in the seventies, and if I remember correctly, did not finish it.
But yestActually I wasn't going to review this book at all, since I read it way back in the seventies, and if I remember correctly, did not finish it.
But yesterday, just for the heck of it, I went through some one-star reviews. Two things I noticed immediately - most people disliked the book because it was boring, and Anne had a sanctimonious attitude. They were of the opinion that the book became a classic only because of historical reasons. Looking at it dispassionately, I have to agree.
I was even more interested in the negative comments on those reviews. Most people were angry at the reviewer because they had the temerity to criticise Anne, A HOLOCAUST VICTIM, for God's sake! Whatever be the quality of her writing, the consensus was that the author was a saint and therefore above any kind of criticism. This viewpoint seems to me rather silly - anything published for general consumption is open to both positive and negative reviews.
The second most common comment was that this was the diary of a teenaged girl, and never meant to be read for its literary merits - and I do agree with this. Those who criticise based on the quality of the writing is missing the mark, I feel. As with any diary, its primary merit is as a first-hand account of an important period in history.
I read it when I was roughly Anne's age. I could visualise for myself the claustrophobic nature of their apartment, and I wondered at a regime which forced a certain section of its citizens to hide themselves in fear of death. This was my first serious exposure to Holocaust literature: and it built in me a passion for history and a lifelong antagonism to fascism of any kind.