EXIT WEST -BOOK REVIEW -AUTHOR-MOHSIN HAMID

Exit  West – Book Review -Author Mohsin Hamid

In  our last blog we talked about Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant ”  where it  was a fabled world, set in a different era  with a very contemporary story  Today, I would like to share with you  another  much reviewed best seller EXIT WEST   by Author Mohsin Hamid  where the story begins at an undisclosed geographical location possibly Middle East ,considering the names of protagonists and the setting .Their  “Geography is destiny” and their life is sad , harsh and transient  .But magical realism  gives the characters   imaginative escapes or exits to a peaceful, picturesque  western world .

Author really needs no introduction as he  writes regularly for the New York Times , the Guardian and the New York Review of Books . He is of Pakistani descent and has lived in New York and   London . I have read his previous two best sellers , The Reluctant Fundamentalist [Short listed for the Man Booker Prize] and Moth Smoke .

“Moth Smoke” was his first work of fiction ,where author analyses the ugly paradoxes of the developing world in which our protagonist begins the process of  self  annihilation ,like a moth to the flame .

In his second novel  “The Reluctant Fundamentalist “ protagonist Changez takes an inward  journey of metamorphosis and reaffirms his decision of relocation to his Native land of Pakistan from the mirage of  abundance and glitz and glamor of America

In his third novel , Exit West , author transitions by exiting to West .

The story “Exit West “ , begins in an unnamed   city    “Teetering at the edge of abyss ” . Impending taking over of the city  by militants is the back drop . Though the residents of the city  are trying to maintain a facade of normalcy but gradually they are being stripped off their rights of being a   human .  Nadia and Saeed , our protagonists , two young people fall in love, in such times .

Nadia though always dresses traditionally “from the tips of her toes to the bottom of her jugular notch, her lifestyle  does not concur with the practices of  her  society .She lives alone ,rides a motorcycle, supports herself and does not pray .Saeed , on the other hand is educated with a” nostalgic temperament” an employed adult, who chose to live with his parents, as is customary in some parts of the world  .  They are like any two regular people who enjoy the digital world , try psychedelic mushrooms and  explore each other

Tragedy struck when Saeed’s mother is killed by a bomb and Nadia and Saeed has no choice but to leave the city with the usual doubts lurking in back that they would be “at the mercy of strangers ,subsistent on hand outs ,caged in prison like vermins ”  .Saeed’s father supports their decision but he himself decides to stay back in the doomed city  with the memories of his wife .

Nadia and Saeed are transported though the magical doors to first a Greek island and then to the streets of London and eventually to San Francisco where they are met by thousands of others like themselves , where they are  never really  allowed to assimilate and each time are thrown away from the mainstream like scum

The ratio of doors opening get  inversely proportional to the tensions mounting in the “Nativists” who reaffirm that refuge seekers were the root cause of all their problems

‘”where the division that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them”

Physical survival could not  maintain  Nadia and Saeed’s relationship and Nadia seeks  solace by releasing Saeed and Saeed in prayers .

 

It is a fast paced , tightly edited novel all of two hundred some pages where the climatic pull is enough but  in certain parts of the book when author zooms in and out of some incidents happening in other parts of the world  , readers could feel confounded .

We might call the theme cliché but yet again author surfs through the book in his unique style that the readers have a lot to interact in the psychic space .The scatter from the main story line some  time though disengaging,  never completely disconnects the  readers .

Author is  empathetic and it finds its resonance in its readers .This part of the world has always been that prodigal child,  that rest  of the world does not know how to embrace , that is an  out of bound location, that is so fraught with danger that one would not be able to touch and heal ,that cause where more would always be less .

Author gives a voice to the women of the society by stating that Nadia’s black robes which she did not need to wear even in her own city but she chose to wear till the end is something that  when one wants to send a certain signal , could be any body’s choice trying to defy the universal objectification of female form  and not always an imposition

Patriotism comes forth  when Saeed’s dad refuses to leave the city and wonders if he did go wrong by choosing to be a teacher ,a researcher a fighter  and not head west ward  towards financial security .

We know in our hearts of hearts that humanity is slaughtered in this part of the world  every day but we are happy to be    blinded and fiercely protective of  our  ensconced selves .We prefer to harbor  the idea of sharing and caring  only in theology and never in practice .This pervasiveness of  senseless self preservation just reminds us of the sad times we are in .

Mohsin Ahmad’s books are always a critique’s delight and are extensively taught in writing courses and writing workshops .

Its definitely a reader’s delight and worth reading .

Have a great weekend .

Talk to you all  soon .

 

 

 

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The Buried Giant – Book review- Kazuo Ishiguro

 

I  just finished another of Ishiguro’s  novel  , “The Buried Giant ” and I again get this compelling feeling to share it with you all .

This book was written during the times of King Arthur when author found out that there were historical voids  so that  author could  fill   those voids with his brush of  imagination .

This book is a toil of ten years  and was published in 2015.

I have shared with you his previous bestsellers on my blog and author  Ishiguro needs no introductions . He is a British author of Japanese descent and is the Nobel Prize winner in Literature in 2017

As in his past  books, we embark on another fabled journey but this time   to the ancient world of  post King Arthur’s rule where Britons and Saxons are at a  never ending war. It’s a world of Kings , knights Ogres ,demons  .People still  live and die by swords .

In these times ,our protagonists, Axl and Beatrice , poor farmers, who live in a community and are not being treated very fairly by the other cohabitants of the community,  decide to embark on a journey to meet their son who is a couple of days away from them .

But a bizarre  amnesia has seemed to  engulf the whole area  and they have all forgotten their recent and remote pasts .This amnesia is to such an extent that Axl and Beatrice  do not even remember their son’s face .

So as we  travel through the country side ,the valleys ,through the forests and meet many interesting characters we cannot  help but compare our present day world to the author’s world in the novel.

The Saxon village where Axl and Beatrice reach to counsel  with the lady healer, they find out about the lad Edwin ,who had been rescued by a visiting  Saxon warrior from the Ogres .He has a bite mark which the villagers think is  from an Ogre and that would turn him against his own people .Superstitions, self centeredness takes over the villagers  and they want to kill that  small boy .

The warrior, Wistan, is on a secret mission, who has been chosen by his Saxon King to kill the She Dragon Querig  ,who’s breath is causing the amnesic mist in the area. Sir Gawain , who is the nephew of King Arthur and is a Knight , has been the protector of the She Dragon .As per King’s wishes ,he wanted the mist to prevail so that foes could live as friends and the senseless war could be stopped .

Axl and Beatrice are an old couple in love with each other and profess their love for each other in every possible manner and would not be out of sight from each other even for a second but when they regain their memory after the She Dragon is  killed and mist of amnesia is cleared Axl, remembers that theirs  was  not a perfect marriage and there were clinks in the armor which he needs to overlook to make his marriage going

As with Ishiguro’s novels there is always more than it meets the eyes and we  cannot help but wonder that though we are reading a novel set in the past but we could very much be in a present .We still let illiteracy , superstition ,selfishness  drive us

We  know ,there is no such thing as infinite justice and we all need this mist of “Forget and Forgiveness for a peaceful coexistence    but as in the novel, the strong warrior, Wistan not only kills Gawain but also sows the seeds of hatred ,disharmony ,violence for the next generation through the lad Edwin  so that peace never gets a chance and  War perpetuates.

Author again draws our attention that we need to keep the bigger picture in mind and let our love be the winner and not hate .

It is a full length  novel some times it gets a little repetitive specially the interactions between the old couple and the story looses its emotional pull and pace  at some points but all in all there still  remains lots of questions unanswered during the read , so one would like to finish the book .

The setting of the story also does not change and we again get to  revisit the United Kingdom

Master story teller as Ishiguro is , the  language has its distinct flavor and though we are reading simple English we know we are at a different historical  era.

Mankind is in the era of scientific boom but we have not changed our basic characteristics  and the   themes of  our stories are  ageless ,timeless and generation less . Unless we are ready to Bury the Giant , peace and prosperity would always elude us  .Even when Sir Gawain tried to protect the mist of forgiveness we are still pretty much at the mercy of likes of Wistan who see their emancipation only by vengeance, violence and war and unfortunately they  are still winning

 

The Post American World – Book Review – Author Fareed Zakaria

This blog should have been one of my first blogs as the source of inspiration is not the book but the author .But the inertia lasted longer than I expected as fictions had caught my attention lately .

I am not left out with many hours in a day  after my job as a physician and CNN is my constant background companion during my chores at home .On one of these days ,by serendipity , I discovered Fareed Zakaria on Global Public square on  CNN   in 2012 and since then I have not missed out on  a single episode intentionally .

I was simply awestruck by his layman version presentation  of the most complex political issues in Global Public square episodes  . Oblivious of the twitter storms or Facebook comments  his episodes  are anything  but candor , conviction and courage about his world views  .The subjects are truly global . contemporary and well researched

Fareed Zakaria was a bright star since his student days in Yale  and Harvard and is considered one of the best analyst of foreign policy, economics and cultural affairs .

“Global public square” is Emmy nominated and he was  ex editor of  “TIME” .Presently he is columnist at Washington Post and best selling author of “The Post American World ” and “The Future of Freedom” . His last publication was “In Defence of a liberal education “. His books as his episodes are lucid , succinct and purposeful.

The  book we are going to touch upon is “The Post American World  which is  a best seller and was initially published in 2008 . I said touch upon as today the book might seem a bit dated but it is an interesting read as you compare notes in retrospect about the last decade ,its prophecies ,its successes and its failures .The book has many historical anecdotes and reference points which gives an insight about present day affairs .The chapters on India and China  are  an indepth depiction of its then socio political and economic milieu and how these counties are trying to gain back it’s lost glory .

Post American World was published when America was in the midst of a deep economic recession  and the  Unipolar world had  started taking note of the rest of the world including the rising stars , BRICS with China spearheading it .

The Wars in Afghanistan and Iran had left a bad taste in mouth and America still   had an expensive military presence in Middle east  with peace not in sight .Unemployment rate was high in the US and outsourcing was a big woe though it left MNCs with a fair share of profit .Middle and secondary education had gaping holes and higher education was leaving a big dent in the financial future of Americans  .Middle America was the worst hit with  no easy solution in sight .

As per author ,Great Britain was the only historical reference of the past centuries for the US of twentieth century, as far as  economic success story and political supremacy goes .The US with its sheer size ,its strong technological base ,stress on meritocracy and unusual strength in turning abstract theory into practical products [Fareed Zakaria] was always way ahead than its counterparts and had emerged as the uncontested Super power, staunch believer of democratic values with stress on free speech . US was the peacekeeper and moderator who the nations of the world  could rely on .

The book ended on a positive note  in which author was optimistic about this Great nation. As per author, though  US is a worrier and this was the fourth wave of concern since 1945, Zakaria was sure this would pass as American system is flexible , resourceful and resilient and it can correct its course on its way if needed .

And America did emerge from this longest lasting recession .

Author did not touch upon President Obama’s presidency and its after math and we are expectant that there would be another best seller on President Obama and after.

President Obama was elected  during this longest lasting recession and for the next eight years right economic policies were implemented and country did buoy out

But the expectations  of the American people were not met .

And the America that emerged Post Obama  was  almost surreal , unimaginable . Everything that was deplored in the past was becoming the new normal

This was the Post Obama America

America felt that the world has not been fair to it .Alliances, trade deals ,Defence deals  did not mean much to it anymore  .It pulled out of NAFTA .Universal health Care which was so painstakingly put together is being dismantled .Iran deal was unilaterally broken with no rational reasons and allies left in a lurch . Land of immigrants were now hating the immigrants and building a wall to stop them from coming . Fair speech is  now unfair and there is  a new kind of fact called “alternative fact “.People are suffering the “Gun Law” and greed is overpowering the need

America was hit so hard by the recession of 2007 that every thing wrong in the past is right in this post traumatic America  .Moral  bankruptcy is at its peak and  an adversary  country is allowed to  interfere in it’s  elections and may have  funded it’s  elections . Simply unimaginable

Economic recession of the US  is fading away but no one knows what to do with this political and moral  recession !  One does get amnesic when times are good but the next decade would bear the brunt of today’s policies

In his book  ” In Defense of a liberal Education ” he debates the virtues of liberal arts which I was not very convinced to begin with . No doubt technology and skill based education leads to better prospects and quicker results  in life but as we trudge along the trajectory of life ,as mentioned by Zakaria ,we try to find “meaning , fulfillment and happiness “, when  futility of the  transient world looms large on the horizon

World of literature always enticed me from afar but the pull was not strong enough to think about long term goals . I do not know the transition to another career will ever happen or not and I am  till now , pretty much fence sitting, but even the journey this far has been joyous and we know unpredictability is the new norm

Would talk to you all soon

 

 

Victoria and Abdul -Book review-Shrabani Basu

While reading this book , I had often wondered how this interesting and enigmatic association of a British Monarch and her Indian teacher “Munshi ” had escaped the keen eyes of historians. In Hindi , the word “Munshi ” is more traditionally used for accountants of small businesses but this “Munshi” was definitely much more than to Queen

Much has been written about the times of Raj but this unconventional relationship was partly concealed as systematically the evidences were purged after Queen’s death .The teacher and his family were driven away from their homes .All the correspondences were burnt or confiscated and Munshi’s family was hounded upto India to wipe away any residual documents .It was as if the indulgence that the Queen was allowed in her later years was a matter of great shame to the Monarchy and earlier it was forgotten the better it was. Further, the descendants of Abdul Karim had left the subcontinent after partition of India and had settled in Karachi [Pakistan], which further helped to fade away the memories .Post Indian independence ,many historical buildings such as the tomb of Abdul Karim after his death had also fallen into neglect . Fortunately , as the Queen’s journal were in Urdu [Persian script]and they were left alone by foreign historians ,it helped the author a great deal to analyze this relationship .

This book’s claim to fame was its adaptation into a major motion picture [Stephen Frier’s film by the same name ] seven years after it was written .It was initially written in 2010 by Shrabani Basu ,who after majoring in History from St Stephens College in New Delhi trained as a journalist and later joined the London Office of Ananda Bazar Patrika as their correspondent The book was republished one more time seven years later. She has many other books to her credit such as For King and another country ; Indian Soldiers on western Front ;Spy Princess-Life of Noor Inayat khan .The book ,Victoria and Abdul ,was a toil of five years and travel of three countries .

Queen Victoria , was the Queen of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901 . In 1876 , she adopted the additional title of” Empress Of India .Tall handsome ,24 years old , Abdul Karim was presented to the Queen at her Golden Jubilee celebration with the other Indian servants. Abdul Karim worked as an assistant clerk at Agra Central Jail and his father was a physician of traditional medicine .Though he was supposed to be with the Queen for a year but an incredible relationship happened and lasted more than a decade .

Though Queen was titular head ,but had always taken a keen interest in affairs of her Monarchy .She had strategically arranged the marriages of her children all throughout the Europe and was later known as the “Grandmother Of Europe and always had some kind of political influence in the country . But after the deaths of her husband , Albert, and later her Scottish gillie , John Brown , whose ring she took to her grave, she had an enormous emotional void in her life .None of the trappings of Monarchy or the presence of her big family could fill it .

Just at that point Abdul Karim entered Victoria’s life and he had all the qualities that Queen admired .He was soft spoken , well mannered ,gentle ,good looking ,proud of his heritage, learned and aware of current affairs .When Queen met Karim she was in her geriatric age group but that did not deter the Queen from forging a human relationship which even to the insiders including her own children was of the most bizarre kind .

Victoria had been brought up as an epitome of morality and the relationship was platonic to its core but it was a combination of various relationship in one . She was a mother, well wisher, guide ,employer and he was a companion ,teacher ,adviser to her .

Queen ,though did not travel to India but was always very inquisitive about this colony ,” The Jewel of the Empire “.Soon after her association with Abdul ,his influence on her was complete . Not only did she start learning the language but Indian curries were being cooked and attires were being worn in the household .Interestingly , the journals she kept of her lessons were of profound importance as they played a great role to unearth this beautiful relationship.

As far as Victoria was concerned, he was a part of her household and expected other members to accept Abdul .But the schism was much wider than the Queen imagined . Abdul lasted for almost ten years but it was almost a daily struggle for Queen to legitimize his position in the household as for rest of them, he was just a part of the” Black Brigade”

In the book “White Mughals “[2002] , written by Dalrymple ,we have witnessed that in early 18 th and early 19 th century, 1 in 3 British men in India were married to Indian women but as British supremacy got established, it was expected that the relations should be of ruler and ruled .We have to recall that post 1857, subcontinent had officially declared its War of Independence and though it was overtly quenched , covertly the milieu was most inappropriate for a relationship between a White Monarch and her Brown servant .

From times immemorial , unconventional human relationships had been under persecution .These relationships are perfectly legal but are not allowed to be preserved as some unspoken rules emerge from some corner . Rules of convention , Rules of race , Rules of religion ,Rules of color , Rules of hierarchy and God knows many other unheard of rules But the bonds of these relationships are much stronger and they resurface time and again with their whiff of eternity .

FROM THE HOLY MOUNTAIN -A journey in the shadow of Byzantium-Author William Dalrymple

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs that I am a great history buff and anything related to history , I cannot keep away from it .In  the past ,I have restricted myself to Indian history as  relating to it was easy but the book I am going to share with you today is a travel book with its unique historical back drop .

William Dalrymple , one of my favorite authors is an authentic historian , who I have been following for the last so many years .He is of Scottish descent and has won numerous awards for travel writing and extensively researched history .

Author  has an intimate connection with India and his affection for the country is real .He  has embraced India more than many of us could and  through his eyes we have rediscovered New Delhi and India many times over .

His first published book ”In  Xanadu- A Quest “  is my most favorite , till date and I have a personally signed copy of the book , when I got it autographed from him at a Mini lit fest in New Delhi ,a couple of years back .I am sure, I would share this  book “In Xanadu -A Quest “  in my future blogs ,where he retraces the steps of Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Inner Mongolia in China .It is a travel writing full of interesting incidents and anecdotes  and   is written in a lighter vein and that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable .

In the book “From the Holy Mountain “ we take  both an  inward and outward journey of  the Holy land which was taken by an Orthodox Monk ,John Moschos in 587 AD with one of his young students ,Sophronius .

Author Dalrymple  took us on this journey almost 1500 years later .

John Moschos  later compressed the journey into a book called “Spiritual Meadow” . John Moschos ,in the book ,mentions about his personnel experiences with other monks ,the various miracle stories ,the ecstatic vision and other practices of Eastern monasticism .Interestingly ,Author Dalrymple ,during his journey found that so many of those practices were still prevalent even today , may be in some modified version .

Dalrymple  began his journey in Greece and then via Istanbul in Turkey ,Syria ,Lebanon , Israel  and then concluded in Egypt .The journey included a part of Byzantine empire ,of middle ages ,which was considered eastern Roman empire, under Great King Constantinople ,who in his later life embraced Christianity .

Christianity has been historically a middle eastern religion with its origin in Judaism .In the initial years it was practiced in secrecy as it had conflict with Judaism and early Pagan Roman practices .Then the church meant gathering or community , rather  than a building or structure .Such teachings or  churches were founded by early disciples of Jesus  as they travelled to the various parts of the world .

It became legal to practice Christianity under Emperor Constantinople in Roman Empire  around 313 AD .His vision was to bring the whole Roman Empire together .But the practices of the Christians in the eastern parts  of the Empire were very  different than that of the western counterpart .Orthodox Christianity or the Eastern Christians gave more stress on  physical and mental ascetism .Such practices also mirrored in Sufism , Vendantic mysticism and Buddhist psychology .

Whereas the head of the Western counterpart is Pope , Eastern Christianity is spread out under various religious heads  with individualistic teachings ,in various parts of the World .

As author visited these ancient monasteries, he gave us numerous accounts of  how the orthodox monks competed against each other in physical and mental deprivation for a divine connection .It was interesting to note that such practices overlap among the various religions of those times . As  per author’s comments, rules for practicing religions were  more porous as compared . Even  today , people  in the rural area of the land of  different faiths, during their difficult times , prayed  at the shrines of these orthodox monks and  performed  animal sacrifices .

In ancient days people with money, commissioned important buildings and works of art to give them a societal presence .Similarly ,in   Emperor Constantinople’s time the concept of  Basilica was gradually taking shape and churches were being built , where people would come together and stress on inner transformation rather than outer ritualistic Pagan practices.

Author has a keen eye for architecture as we have  noted in his past books and he describes the monasteries in great details whatever he could as most of them are in states of great dilapidation secondary to antiquity ,violence and no maintenance . But it was amazing to know  that few of those which are still in one piece and functional are practicing the faith exactly what they did 1500 years earlier .

In the book “Spiritual Meadow “ ,John Moschos  described about the practices of miracle healing by the Saints of those times . Author presented many such instances in his usual tongue in cheek fashion where present day monks are preaching about the Saints .

As we travelled with the author through the modern day cities and onto the remote places of worship ,we noted the political turmoil ,unrest and a constant fear of persecution among the  minority residents .Christianity has systematically  been routed out  from its  place of  origin and more  and more people are  moving west wards for a better and secure life .

These areas from time immemorial has been under great strife .Cradle of three great religions of the world ,Christianity ,Islam and Judaism  has always  been  a socio politically disturbed region.   Peace never returned to these areas and this   journey itself   seemed  like  a challenging adventure .

Amongst the many other present days ironies of the Modern World ,The Holy Land ,has not witnessed a lasting peace for the last two centuries  and we really pray for a miracle when the true essence of Humanity and Religion would prevail.

Wishing you all  a happy Easter weekend .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 .

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 .