Six Word Summary: Bengali first world problems. Again. Headdesk.
I rate it: 5/10
Brothers Udayan and Subhash are inseparable while growing up in a working class family in Kolkata, but adulthood takes them down different roads. The outgoing and bold Udayan joins the militant Naxalite movement spreading like wildfire in East India in the 70s. The quiet, measured Subhash chooses to move to the US to do his PhD and ends up staying there. Then Udayan gets killed by the paramilitary, and seeing that there is nobody to take care of his heartbroken pregnant young widow Gauri, Subhash offers to marry her and take her back with him to Boston. Gauri accepts in order to get away from the trauma and to give her unborn child a secure environment to grow up in, but can marriage and parenthood that comes from so much compulsion ever be a success?
Jhumpa Lahiri is an exquisite writer, the words flow from her pen like honey dripping from a comb. Her English is smooth and fresh, she can surprise you with the way she chooses to describe something mundane. She has an eye for details, and amazing observation skills.
But. Continue reading
Six Word Summary: Epicurean ophthalmologist combines interests, eats eyeballs
I rate it: 6/10
Dr. Amadeus Kaine is one of the world’s leading eye surgeons. He is also a member of an elite epicurean club that delights in cooking and eating obscure, often disgusting dishes, such as sea slugs in brandy. Then, during a visit to a (fictional) Asian country to treat its despot ruler, Dr. Kaine is treated to an exotic pastry that is simply the best thing he has ever put into his mouth. You’ve probably already guessed where this is going. Continue reading
Kafka on the Shore
Six Word Summary: Talking cats. Falling fish. Frigging crazy.
I rate it: 8.5/10
Goodreads describes Kafka on The Shore as “a tour de force of metaphysical reality”. I’m going to confess I have no idea what the word metaphysical means, or tour de force, for that matter, so I’m just going to say that Kafka on the Shore is a pretty crazy book. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, except with more incest, disembowelment, and talking cats… oh wait, no, we had talking cats in Alice. Continue reading
The Doll’s House
Six Word Summary: Serial Killer Conventions for the win!
I Rate It: 9/10
I started the Sandman Journey on Rivers I Have Known last month with Preludes and Nocturnes, and left off with a promise that things are about to get even more awesome. The Doll’s House lives up to that promise delightfully, with a complex storyline, amazing artwork, and an unforgettable narration. Continue reading
The Guardian Angels
I rate it 7/10
The Guardian Angels is a love story. Between a rich boy and a middle class girl. Many of you are going to switch to a different tab right here because there are enough bollywood flicks to take care of your hankering for rich-boy-poor-girl romance, but if you haven’t done it already, please wait. Guardian Angels is also significantly more than your average run of the printer love story.
For one thing, it’s well written. Gore knows how to write good English, which is sadly much more than what most recent Indian writers writing in the language can claim. You will not be haunted by heinous grammar crimes or clumsily drafted sentences. So far, so good. Continue reading
Preludes & Nocturnes
Six Word Summary: Dreams are cool! Death is cooler!
I Rate It: 8.5/10
Egged on by other fans of graphic novels in general and of Neil Gaiman specifically, I started a journey recently to cover the whole of the Sandman series. I expected my mind to be blown, because it’s a graphic novel written by Neil Friggin Gaiman, and it grows around the theme that there are immortal beings called the Endless who control almost every sphere of human life, and these beings interact with people while looking like goths. To tell the truth, my mind was a little bit blown just reading the wikipedia page. Continue reading
Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam
I rate it: 7/10
Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam was one of the most respected and popular presidents of India. He was (is, sorry) also an eminent aerospace scientist, and was involved in the development of the ballistic missile and launch development. He has written several books, mostly inspirational, including his autobiography Wings of Fire. It was a deep honour for me when Rupa Publications approached me to review his new book- My Journey.
Having said that, I must confess I was less than thrilled. I have the sort of mind that gives a wide berth to inspiration and makes a beeline for the cynical. And while ex-presidents have all of my respect, I cannot think of anything more dreary than elderly gentlemen telling me how to rise above my adversities. Which is why it was such a relief when I finally got the book and found that it was a collection of anecdotes and memories rather than a dispense of knowledge and advice. Continue reading
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth
Six Word Summary: Shitty dads-begotten by shittier dads
I rate it: 8.5/10
Jimmy Corrigan is one of the most difficult books I have read, graphic novel or otherwise. The book is shaped landscape rather than portrait, making it awkward to hold. The frames on each page are oriented every which way, however, so you have to frequently keep rotating the book. Some of the frames are stamp sized, some take up two full pages, some are exceedingly sparse, some are so busy with details that you have to study them for several minutes. The book has three different storylines which are interspersed randomly, beginning and leaving off without notice, and the main characters in all the storylines look and dress exactly alike, even though they are separate individuals (ancestors and descendants in fact), so you have to learn to figure out whose story you are reading Continue reading
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Jennifer Cody Epstein
I rate it: 7/10
Before I start the review, please allow me a moment to gush about how wonderful it feels to get a free hard cover book straight from the author, with a tastefully done cover to boot. That almost never happens. Hardbacks are so lovely I’m almost completely ready to love the story inside, no matter what it is or who tells it. Yay for hardbacks!
That’s not to say I wouldn’t have liked Jennifer Epstein’s The Gods of Heavenly Punishment if it hadn’t been hardcover. The story is engaging, the characters are interesting and real, if a bit exotic, and you never stop wanting to find out what comes next. Most of the story is based in Japan during the second world war. A young Japanese girl who is watching helplessly as her parents drift apart, loses everything and everyone in the Tokyo firebombings of 1945. An American pilot with a pregnant young wife is taken prisoner by the Japanese. A photographer returns to Tokyo after decades, and learns to find the courage to accept his own identity. These three characters have very little to do with each other, but their lives are intertwined by fate, and by war. Continue reading
The Sense of an Ending
I rate it: 8/10
Good and bad, I defined these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then…
I’m younger than that now.
Bob Dylan- my back pages
The cover of my hardbound copy of The Sense of an Ending shows a black and white dandelion flower with its petals flying away one by one. My experience with this book, which I finished reading for the third time recently, is captured beautifully by this image: momentous, yet light. Continue reading
Six Word Summary: Dogs are proof that god exists
I rate it:9/10
James Herriot was a veterinary surgeon who treated farm animals and pets in the England countryside for more than four decades, from the 40′s to the early 80′s. He is also one of the best known vets in the world of book lovers, having written a series of extremely popular books about his exploits with all sorts of animals. This book is a collection of fifty of his stories about dogs and dog owners. Continue reading
“Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? …Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.”
East of Eden
I rate it: 6/10
Six Word Summary: Book of Genesis repeats itself, tediously
Some books hit you with a sense of awe as soon as you begin reading. Steinbeck begins East of Eden with a seasonal description of Salinas Valley so alive that you can actually smell flowers with unreal names like maidenhair and harebells. Your skin tingling with the excitement of exploring a new land, you read on about young Sam Hamilton, an Irish settler with a merry eye and a poetic soul, a complete misfit among the farmers of the valley who understand only the land and its requirements. You break for a moment to peek into wikipedia, and find out that Samuel Hamilton was actually the author’s grandfather on his mother’s side. Things are just getting better and better with the introduction of the Trask family, in Connecticut, with a delusional, dangerous father, and two brothers who must compete for his affection. You are tempted to immediately text your friends to tell them you have found the best Steinbeck ever. You don’t, however, because you are lazy. Continue reading