28 January 2017

The Thing Around Your Neck


Book: The Thing around your neck
Author: Adichie
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Adichie never fails to awe you with her writing, with its deep understanding of various shades of its characters and various layers of its stories. Each story is a gem and takes  the readers experience to a different level. From the ancient poor to nouveau rich, from religious paradox in a society to immigrant experiences in US of A, from having a cheating husband to being a mistress, from getting a basic life to making it to writers club, the stories show life from various view points and each is real and alive. 

There are so many stories which strike a chord with you. Like the immigrant experience when same English transforms in a different country - a lift becomes an elevator, biscuits become cookies, saying phone is busy instead of engaged, having tea without milk or sugar, or having pizza as your favourite food. 

Finally, I personally treasure this book as a book lover. Adichie treats you to a list of African authors to be read. 
The title story called 'The Thing around you neck' names: 
- Okot pBitek's poetry
- Amos Tutuola
Nawal el Saadawi

'The Jumping Monkey Hill' short story is about budding African authors assembling for a workshop for Lipton African writers prize so it's bound to be a field day for African literature discussing the beauty of their writing styles with 
- Damnudzo Marecheta as astonishing 
- Alon Paton as patronising 
- Isak Dinesan as unforgivable 
- Achebe as sublime and 
- Conrad 

Being a connoisseur of Indian fiction, Adichie's short stories make me feel that Nigeria is no different from India, and the immigrant experience is no different from a NRI. Adichie does what a Jhumpa Lahiri or Chitra Banerjee do for us. They show the tough lives of poor people at home who come to America to be rich but instead live a lonely yet stable life. Is anyone truly happy! Is happiness a person or a place! Aren't we all searching for answers? 

Sleeping on Jupiter


Book: Sleeping on Jupiter
Author: Anuradha Roy
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

"Already too many snatched of other people's lives were stored inside her, the built up sediments from which bits and pieces floated up at times, into her dreams."

Anuradha Roy writes another surreal story set in a small town with a bunch of characters wrapped in their own little parallel stories intertwining and separating yet moving in circles. The thing about Anuradha is that she captures the mundaneness of life in such beautiful words that one feel that this story needs to be held for sometime before you let it go and be there in the world with other stories. 

The title 'Sleeping on Jupiter' is ironical, given that all of them are in their own worlds in such a small world. Some are trapped in past, some are facing identity crisis, some are damaged and some are just going by life safely, while the shadows of their memories chase them everywhere. The plot starts some 13 years back with the leading lady Nomi back to Jarmuli in search of someone or something, and her story gets distributaries with strangers she meets on her journey who start their own tales from there on before merging into one into the ocean. 

The beauty of Anuradha's writing comes from the experience of the sounds, the smells and the visions which bring the nostalgia alive. Reader can experience the music of sea waves from afar, the music of temple bells, the smell of fish and garbage dumped on the beaches, the  noise and clamour of a small temple town in India by the sea, the fragrance of flowers, the spicy fish in open frying stalls and the bliss of earthy tea with condiments served in a terracotta cup. And an author is worth it's pen if it can fuel your imagination and transport you in to the book! Thanks to Anuradha, her writing does this every time! 

24 January 2017

Reader Turns Author: Famous Five to One Last Time

Reader turns Author brings you Anubhav Shrivastava, debutante writer of One Last Time. This series talks about his love for reading to the journey to a book! 


The first book you read... 

I fondly remember reading the Famous Five Enid Blyton series during my childhood here in Delhi.


The favorite author ever...

My favorite Author is Rhonda Byrne. I think anyone who can apply the principles of her book ‘The Secret’ in their lives can become successful. 


The favorite book and when you read it...

My favorite book is the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I read it last year during my Europe vacation. 


The library at home or home at library...

My personal library has quite an eclectic mix – ranging from word power mady easy by Norman Lewis, books on spirituality (Bhagwad Geeta, An intimate note to the Sincere Seeker), Historical Books (India After Gandhi), Self Help (The One Thing) and Popular Fiction (The company of Women by Khushwant Singh)


The idea, the journey, the book...

I always wanted to have unique journeys in life. I was a popular blogger initially, and for me this transition from a blogger to an author has been quite a fulfilling journey. I always wanted to create something – my own world. Some people create startups, some can create good music and paintings, and I decided to create One Last Time. We are all the same. We are all artists. Some of us might get recognition and others might fail. But the quest for creating something should never die!


One Last Time - The book 

3 people – who are very different from each other in terms of their approach to life and certain situations. In love, we say that opposites attract but that is not necessarily the case in friendship. But can such varied characters impact each other’s lives? 


Anubhav Shrivastava graduated with a B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics from Manipal Institute of Technology in 2015. He is extremely passionate about cricket and movies. His blog Quintessentialthought.org reflects his core philosophy on various subjects. He deeply endorses Yoga and meditation, and believes that a healthy and calm mind is the greatest wealth a man can possess. He shall be pursuing MBA from Indian School of Business in 2018.

19 January 2017

Nouveau Islamic Fiction


Recently I have observed a spurt of displaying Islamic life in cartoons and books. This is an opportunity to know about the world so different, culture so rich, traditions so old, people so polite, and lives so warm. These books they show different things. At one side there is memories of authors thru their time of Islamic revolutions. The war with the west, the war within and the lives of common people. There is no one happy with whatever is going around, there are things irrational, there are lives limited. Each book tells a different story - of a world lost in the time, stuck somewhere not ready to move, and lives just living! What is it that can't settle down. Why is a land so important, why is god so important, anywhere in the world. Does the God need humans to protect him. God is there and not there. But is it sensible to loose your life for god, centre your life around god, kill other people in name of God. The strife, the war, creates fear and insecurity in the minds of people and they reach out to some saviour and it's generally God. When the things go so bad, that's when god is born. The whole mythological literate we can discuss later. 
But see this list of the Islamic fiction

1) Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi - As much I say about this books, it's less. This one is turning into my lifetime favorite. A book I will keep returning to and hold its copy dear to my heart. 
2) Kiterunner, Khaled Hussaini - A beautiful book written on love and family and guilt and a past. Another book by the same author is 'A Thousand splendid suns'. Another nostalgia trip is Rooftops of Tehranby Mahbod Seraji - of a small community living, of childhood love and the journey to it 
3) Girls of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea - To summarise its the Arabic 'Sex in the city'. And it's no sex in the city. Men continue to be jerks and women keep searching for the world. Only and the biggest difference you have society rules to follow too! 

Ancient Storytelling 
1) Arabian Nights, scheherazade - The most ancient book ever, of a woman who tells never ending tales to the king every night. She lives if stories do! Definitely a story lover'
2) The forty rules of love, Elif Shafak - a love story between Rumi and Shams of Tabriz 
3) My name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk - The story of love, envy and deceit in the art of miniaturists showing the intricate threads of the teacher student relationship. 

And then there is graphic depiction to show the misery of life in simple black and white caricatures. Life is colourless and empty lines. It's bland and dull, the coloured memories of good times. The blue skies are gone, Where are the greens of hills and the browns of deserts. Why this land is dry and arid. 

Graphic Fiction 
1) Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi - A girl child growing in the background of Iranian revolution. A generation that went backward rather than forward. Embroideries, Chicken with Plums are also her beautiful storytelling creations! 
2) The Arab of the Future, Riad Sattouf - Two parts of lovely cartoon lives across Syria and France by some one who lived his childhood between the two. The graphic depiction is of course Parisian influence 
3) Disco Kabul, Nicolas Wild - An unemployed  American gets a photography and comic writing project in Afghanistan and lives to tell his tale of surviving in the tough yet funny situations 

And all these stories show women living empty lives, serving their men, products of a patriarchal society, where women are owned as husbandry, just more high maintainence, to be wives, give birth and manage homes. They are not equal to men no matter what. And it's also not about equality, it's about acknowledging women are superior in different things. 

This is little English fiction of Islamic world that I know of. These authors are either currently on asylum in USA or France away from their homeland suppressed by tyrannical fanatic governments and war lords. Orhan particularly writes ancient tale of a miniaturist era. These worlds have their own beauty. Their own tales that need to be told. Hope you enjoy these lovely books. Each needs to be read in this lifetime and another. 🤓

16 October 2016

Domestic Violets

Read: 16 Oct, 2016
Book: Domestic Violets
Author: Matthew Norman
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5 

It's a simple story told well. The setting of the book is of a closet writer, son of a Pulitzer winning author, with a dead-end soulless job, crazy set of parents and step parents, and a marriage in question mark? So in all a modern American family. It could have been a sitcom on Comedy Central and I would have a laugh or two on it in the evenings after the drudgery of my daily job, imagining my own aspirations of being a writer some day. 

Yes that summarizes the story very well. The novel is very now and real with all the references to popular TV shows, literary magazines, blogging, Hollywood and American fiction, the literary awards and book agents, 2008 financial crisis and Lehman (very relateable to me) and Obama, and lifestyle comparisons between Washington and New York. 

But the part I like the most is the musings of an author, the process of imagining, writing and getting a book out - "listening to all those men upstairs". When you know there is a story to be told you know it needs to be told! The various styles and themes of different authors. What is that inspires and what sells! The lines and quotes, used as instruments to tell a story... here are some from the book - 

"Backstory," she says "A narrative used to provide history or context."
That is why two English majors should never argue. 

"The last few weeks you've have acting like someone who's about to do something stupid." It sounds like something a character would say in one of my dad's books - books that often feature men sprinting toward their own entirely self-orchestrated demise. 

I'm the star of a public service announcement cautioning viewers of the horrors of infidelity. 

She moves her lips when she reads silently to herself. 

One of the annoying things about friendship is that there are these people in your life who can call you on your bullshit at any given moment. 

That's just for the drama, it's the gesture that's important. 

I can always tell when a book is done because I start to hate it. And I still love this one a little. 

That's me giving myself a tough love speech. I am going to start doing that more often, I've decided. One might as well put his inner monologue to good use. 

Finally the list of authors favorite reads: 'Straight Man' to 'High Fidelity' the themes that run across the book - 


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