A Pale view of the Hills – Author -Kazuo Ishiguro

A Pale view of the Hills – Author -Kazuo Ishiguro

pale view ofhills

As I mentioned in my past blogs that  author Kazuo Ishiguro has been my discovery of 2017 and it has been an extremely joyful experience reading his books .

He is the Nobel prize winner of English Literature of 2017 and is based in England .Author is of Japanese descent and  “A pale View of the Hills” had been one of his earlier books where a part of the story is based in post war Nagasaki .

The protagonist is  a Japanese woman , Etsuko ,who resides in an apartment complex with her husband .It is a very traditional house hold where she is a perfect wife and a daughter-in -law and is pregnant with her first child  . The times are post war ,when  the country is coming to terms with  the devastation of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki. People have lost lots of near and dear ones and are making difficult decisions in life.

We witness , as  the times are changing ,so are societal mores and people are not satisfied with the past ways and they are looking for ways to better their lives .

On the surface Etsuko  approves of her own  life and disapproves of the ways of her friend Sachiko who is a single mom and  is trying to raise her daughter in these difficult times .But Sachiko is not very hopeful about her and her daughter’s future Nagasaki  and wants to leave for greener pastures with her American boy friend who does not seem to be very responsible .

We meet the same Etsuko in her later part of life in England when her daughter from her first husband has committed suicide and she is a single woman who is adjusting to the ways of her, second daughter ,from her second husband in a foreign land .

As like other Ishiguro novels , a lot is being conveyed than what it appears to be and hence  it leaves us with many interpretations.

In the book ,our protagonist in her early part of life, represents a woman of  a traditional society, who is expected to fulfill her roles without getting her own expectations fulfilled .We see her first husband who is a hard working man and a good son but emotionally leaves a big void in her life as her husband .

Her father in law who loves them as a family but   expects a certain kind of subservience from the younger generation and  cannot come to terms with the ways of the present generation .It is totally new to him that there could be a different point of view than his, as he is older, however wrong or right that could be .

Etsuko befriends  Sachiko who is a  single mom. She  would do anything to be freed of her present life.  where she would have to spend it at her Uncle’s place and  she  is ready to embark on a journey even  with a slippery foot hold .

Sachiko’s daughter , Mariko , who is about eight years old and is  very emotionally disturbed  She does not have a stable home and does not go to school because of financial hardships .She hates her mother’s American friend and does not want to leave her pets and the country.

When we come to the second part of the novel which is told in the first part of the book ,we do not know how Etsuko met her second husband , how she came to England and how happy she was in her later life but possibly by telling the story of Sachiko, she tells it all .

Though the story is based in post  world war -II times but as we read it we know it is still so contemporary .Even after so many years , it is still our story .

Etsuko still represents us as a modern day woman where you  are expected to relinquish your wishes on the altar of  life, if they do not concur. We take the blame and are ready to be blamed for every thing  if  some outcomes are not as expected .

Etsuko’s daughter from her first husband commits suicide as she is not able to adjust to her  new surroundings and I am sure it would always be  the mother who would be cited as the cause , who decided to take a drastic step and  did not prove to be a good mother .

Etsuko’s second daughter who was possibly born in the UK and does not want to be at her mother’s side even in her trying times as she has a life of her own and has her own ways .As a mother , she has to accept it to keep the mother daughter  relationship going .

Its ironical that women after embarking on a long journey from the past times and even after achieving so many mile stones, is agreeable to her vulnerable status .The society is always ready to send her on a guilt trip if she decides to carve out a path for herself .The cistern starts leaking from all  the places if she does not prove to be a good glue .

As always , Ishiguro is  a master story teller and had perfected his art even in his earlier books .”Pale View Of the Hills “is an extremely interactive novel and lets us have many school of thoughts  and he  maintains his usual style of camouflaged simplicity .His  description of the war in subtlety without going into the gruesomeness of it makes it more readable .We get a glimpse of Japan as a very traditional society with its own pros and cons .

‘On a lighter note, we have to be extremely alert while reading his books and cannot skip pages or dose off or you  would have to go back to it again .

It was wonderful sharing with you an amazingly beautiful novel .

Have a great weekend and would talk to you soon .

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The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness – Book review – Author [Arundhati Roy ]

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness – Book review – Author [Arundhati Roy ]

happiness

After a  long wait and long means really long ,after  almost two decades, we did get to read Arundhati Roy’s second fiction .She is an Indian author who writes in English and is based in India .Her first book  ,God Of Small Things , catapulted her as one of the most brilliant writers of her time .It won her the Man Booker Prize and the book was translated into almost forty languages .The book was a masterpiece in itself and I do not know how many times I have read it .She has many non fictions to her credit in between the works of her fiction .

The book “Ministry Of Utmost Happiness” is in two parts . In the first part her protagonist is from that part of society who are considered anomalies of the society . They are acknowledged and tolerated.and with time they are supposed to fade away .

Anjum , who is a transgender is a resident of the Older part Of Delhi .Older part of Delhi is famous for its delicious meals, poetry , historical monuments and narrow bylanes . Her mother inspite  of knowing about her ambiguous sex , tried to raise her as a male child as it is the preferred sex .But all her mother’s efforts fail . Anjum’s inner conflicts prevails over her social obligations and she decides to break free . She moves to a place called “khwabgah “[Dream Palace } where after initiation rites she is inducted into the group of transgenders.The residents of Khwabgah call the real  world” Duniya”.

Anjum is happy in  her new life and accepts the usual challenges of a transgender . She gets her share of fame as she becomes some kind of spokesperson for the transgenders . Mother hood happens to her accidentally as she finds an abandoned girl on the steps of  a Mosque .The child is raised by all the residents of the commune  and Anjum takes her responsibilities very seriously

But life takes a dramatic turn when she goes on a pilgrimage to pray for her child’s good health .She returns as a different person and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and decides to leave her home for the most unexpected destination which she calls her as her new home .

In the second part , we move to the newer part of Delhi where again author has chosen a very unconventional protagonist .She is an architect  who has no family and she supports herself by doing various part time jobs .She does not have a sought after complexion and has  equally unaccepted ways of life , but  she is being wooed by three men .She is a soul mate for one and marries the other two . As protagonist Tilo ,follows her love , we get to see the disturbed State of Jammu and Kashmir in close quarters where India is fighting a proxy war .

In a very fascinating way ,author connects both the parts of the book as both her protagonists very interestingly meet each other .

Author has once again aced in her art and had been brilliant in this venture .As her protagonists navigate their lives , she introduces numerous characters who had been described to perfection which makes this book a must read . Author describes interesting anecdotes throughout and those who are familiar with those geographical areas would really relish them Political commentary continues throughout the book and she touches upon various political mile stones of the 80s .She presents various political character of those times and gives them wrapping of her own personnel interpretation which gives the book a humorous touch .  She is honest , brave and stark about her opinions  when she describes the religious riots of Gujrat or Post assassination riots of Mrs Gandhi or Union Carbide gas leakage .

Both the protagonists are considered other than normal in Indian society .Her treatment of both the characters are so close to real that one marvels at our own country and its paradoxes to the extreme .

Though India is vying for one of the top economic powers of the World , it is a very traditional country in spirit .The surface calm holds it all together but any slight ripple breaks it all loose .Any aberration from the perceived normal brings out the worst in the society and one keeps wondering what caused this bipolar behavior. The gentle Indian changes into some thing else.

The threshold of tolerance is getting lower day by day and  counter expression by violence is getting to be the new normal .The recent outrage and protests that a Movie “Padmavat” has caused amongst the Northern part of India has taken us by surprise .It is a film based on the story of an ancient  Rajput queen , Padmavati ,who commits self immolation also known as” Sati” when her husband looses the kingdom to an enemy King . Sati had been a past tradition which had been prohibited by law in the colonial India . A mere film which could cause so much outrage in the country makes us wonder that how could  the same India, which is vying to be the biggest world IT human resource could react to a cinematic expression in such a way !

Wishing you all a happy February .