Posted in Fiction, ManBooker LongList 2017, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy!

The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Since I have officially given up trying to read the remaining 4 books of ManBooker Longlist 2017, let me at least attempt to pen down my thoughts about the ones I managed to read. I am almost afraid to type this because it is most definitely an unpopular opinion that I am going to voice. Hence, the disclaimer –  Maybe, it is just me. It was such a huge letdown that it slightly hurts to dissect. And therefore I will try my best to not pick at it much. My biggest grouse with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is that it has too many characters, like an Indian Soap Opera. This is not always a bad thing, but in case of this book, it prevented me from warming up to its central characters. Almost all of the book, to me, is a dense, slow-moving, and hastily strung together jumble of the author’s political views and anecdotes with “names changed to protect privacy” kind of modifications. And funnily, they seemed to have been made to make recognition even easier. It would have been impactful if the book was peppered with them all over the story rather than the story being peppered in between by, an almost venomous at times, mockery of pretty much everything about the country. It is not the unfairness or fairness of it that is the problem, not at all, it is the frequency and sheer volume of it that strains the reader’s nerves. It might work in an editorial of a newspaper, but certainly not in a work of fiction, especially one that had the potential of blooming beautifully, to begin with. I see no point in stealing the spotlight from the narrative to make a political statement in a beautifully set up work of fiction. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to its promise of developing into a beautiful tale in the forthcoming pages.

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, My Bibliothèque, WarTime Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale!

I have already talked about my newfound for love magical realism in my review of The Bear and the Nightingale. Stories with magicians and monsters are charming, but what I have realised recently is how much I love stories that talk about magical that is invisible to the naked eye. The kind of magic that exists only in the mind of someone who believes in it. For everyone else, it is just another feature of our mundane lives. And it is the magic of toys that Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers delves into. Of course, one could argue that the toys described in Papa Jack’s Emporium are indeed different from the ordinary toys we see around us. In my opinion, that you missing the point. To a certain extent, every toy is just a toy. A rubber duck or a stuffed rabbit is only a rubber duck or a stuffed for everyone else other than the child who has a special relationship with it. It is the power of belief that separates the believer and sceptic. And that is what makes The Toymakers magical in my opinion. Because it is intended for the child, that burrows deep into the psyche of every cynical adult.

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – Pottermore Presents Short Stories from Hogwarts by J K Rowling!

So, I stumbled across these by chance on Amazon and like an old faithful, I had to get it. About these eBooks, they are collections of articles from Pottermore peppered more than generously with insights from J. K Rowling about her thoughts and rationale on why she named and shaped certain characters the way she did. But even for a seasoned Pottermore lurker like me, some of the information was a revelation. I have made my peace with the fact that there is never going to be something as amazing as the 7 books again in the Potter Universe ( Sorry fans of Fantastic Beasts, but that is how it is for me! ). But each of these books had something interesting that adds to my appreciation of how beautifully the Magical World mirrors the Muggle World. Let me talk about my favourite parts of each of this books now.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Short Stories

{ Book Review } – The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier!

The Birds and Other StoriesThe Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you need any proof of how amazing Daphne du Maurier’s writing is, do give The Birds and Other Stories a go. I don’t need that reassurance though, I have already jumped over the boundaries of blind faith in her writing by this point. But, still, every du Maurier story gives me high, honestly! Yes yes, you can roll your eyes and say that I have caught the revival bug, but I am just glad that I found her work even if I found it this late in my life. Because it is simply amazing!  Also, her writing lends itself to cinematic experience so naturally. Even as I was reading the first story of this anthologies, I found myself thinking about how amazing the story would be when turned into a movie. It was only later that I learnt that several of her works have been adapted to the silver screen by Hitchcock. While my opinion of the movie The Birds is not as amazing as its story, I still am a huge fan of the book. In any case, as one read The Birds, one realises how vivid are the images that form in your mind even as you are reading it. As bizarre as it might sound,  The Birds was indeed an extremely “visual” experience for me.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Short Stories

{ Book Review } – The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen !

The RefugeesThe Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So trying to keep up my resolution of reading one short story collection a month, I picked up The Refugees. It is really similar in mod and tone to What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky with the difference that the Refugees is about immigrants from Vietnam while former was about immigrants from Nigeria. The stories all have varied themes but the pain of separation from family and loved ones and the culture shock remain consistent through most stories. I will take you through some of my favourites. The juxtaposition of the Vietnamese culture, the difficulties the immigrants face while they set up a life in America against the backdrop of relatively affluent American culture makes some of these stories very poignant reads.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag!

Ghachar GhocharGhachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had heard rave reviews about the book for a whole year before I picked it up. I read the English translation of this Kannada novel by Shrinath Perur, and while I concede that a little something is always lost in translation, Perur has done a wonderful job of it, not merely giving the literal translation of the text but rather, of making sure that as much essence of it is retained as possible.

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Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, ManBooker LongList 2017, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead!

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Underground Railroad is a fictional tale set in Pre-Civil War America and details of a brave young slave name Cora who lives on a cotton plantation in Georgia. It begins with a bit of background on Cora’s pitiful condition, an outcast even amongst the other slaves. Her scant memories of her past, though not very detailed give the reader sufficient insight to understand how the negative impacts of slavery trickle down from generation to generation and get worse. Then comes Caeser, another slave on the plantation, who doesn’t share Cora’s background of generations of slavery. He is here because of another set of circumstances and when he suggests that she accompanies him when he makes an attempt to run away from here and try a shot at freedom, she is taken aback. But after a bit of hesitation, she decides to join him and there starts a tale of adventure, interspersed with terror and hope in equal measure.

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