Book Review : Kachher Manush

51EJsNCuFkL._SX400_BO1,204,203,200_It’s not everyday that I sit down to write about a Bangla book. There are a few that not only tug a few strings at the heart, but pull them hard enough to inflict pain. Kachher Manush (The Close One) by Suchitra Bhattacharya is an epic work in contemporary Bangla Literature. SB was an immensely popular writer over decades until she passed away untimely last year. Her stories have always been as close to our middle class reality as they could. She wrote almost solely about the average Bengali family, one you’d spot around you daily with all its problems, undercurrents of tension and occasional bursts of joy. Kachher Manush was written in the eighties, quite early in SB’s career and yet it portrays the mastery that she had in her craft. The writing waned later though, stories became repetitive, plots became a little mundane, but she produced occasional masterpieces like Kancher Dewal, Neel Ghurni, Dahan and Parobash. Among the good, bad and ugly ones, Kachher Manush is the one I love the most.

The opening pages are laced with hope and anticipation. Titir, a teenager in full bloom in the eighties Calcutta has just appeared for her Secondary examinations in school. She awaits her alcoholic father Aditya’s homecoming from a hospital. SB does a wonderful, rather wistful job in narrating the ambience around Titir as she waits for her mother Indrani to fetch Aditya home. She lives in a huge house, in a ‘joint family’ that we were so familiar to in the previous century. Titir’s family comprises of little islands, bound loosely together by her ailing grandfather. Her paternal uncle Sudip and his wife Runa have aptly named their son Atom, probably in apprehension that they would live as a nuclear family sometime in future. Aditya’s youngest brother Kandarpa is a wannabe actor who lives in horns of dilemma, tethering between right and wrong. SB describes these islands through the eyes of Titir’s elder brother Bappa, who admits being the smallest isthmus, waiting to sever his ties with the dysfunctional family soon by applying for a sailor’s job.

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Book Review : God is a Gamer

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Blurb View: 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CROSS GAMER, BANKER, POLITICIAN AND TERRORIST WITH VIRTUAL MONEY?

From the bestselling author of If God Was a Banker comes the first ever bitcion thriller. God is a Gamer is a world where money means nothing, martyrs are villains, predators are prey, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.

Moving from Washington’s Congress to Delhi’s finance ministry, the beaches of Goa to the corporate boardrooms of Mumbai, this is Ravi Subramanian’s most gripping novel yet.

Review:

Ravi Subramanian had already raised all expectations with his banking series. Though I haven’t read any of his previous books, ‘Bankster’ is on my To-Read pile since long. ‘God is a Gamer’ being India’s first ever bitcoin thriller, had garnered hopes and thrills from readers in belonging to a niche genre. Banks, currencies, virtual banking, gaming and eventually the introduction of bitcoins should have been more interesting than it turned out to be.

The book began well, I must say. It hooked my interest into the world of bitcoins and virtual money transfer, interspersed with a murder and lot of suspense. Swami, Aditya, Malvika and Sundeep had all started as bankers and diversified into different fields after awhile. Aditya owns a gaming company that Sundeep has helped him build up. The tussle between Malvika and Swami in their banking operations has been pulled off well, though it turned out to be a sub-plot. Then enter Varun and Tanya, the two key protagonists of the story. We see whirlwind romance between them and it is structured pretty well to fit into the story.

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Author Interview : Sid Bahri

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Meet one of the most impressive debuts in Indian English Literature of 2013 – Sid Bahri’s ‘The Homing Pigeons’.

Brief Blurb:

In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar. Little does he know that his life will change forever.

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…

The Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

Now that almost all of you have read the book, it is time to celebrate its success with the prolific author Sid Bahri. First things, read my review here, followed by the interview.

                                                                  ————————

Conversation:

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

1. Congratulations on the overwhelming success of The Homing Pigeons. Did you expect such huge response for your debut venture?

Thank you, Priyanka. The ride for The Homing Pigeons has been fairly bumpy. It was written by night while I was working a day job. When all those nights of labor ran into rejections, I was almost beginning to lose confidence. Yet, most people who’ve read it have liked it.
I’d be lying if I said that I expected the book to be a dud but I wasn’t expecting this overwhelming response either. All in all, it’s a good start that I hope to build on.

2. Aditya and Radhika belong to a new breed of protagonists, much unlike the ideal hero and heroine. What made you break the formula and sketch characters most people would not dream falling in love with?

You are right when you say that Aditya and Radhika aren’t perfect protagonists. You can’t blame me for not creating perfectly relatable characters though.
My intention was to create characters that live amongst us. They come from middle class backgrounds. They are faced with dilemmas and they choose the path that they felt was right. It doesn’t mean that the path they chose was the morally correct path but for them, at those critical junctures, it felt right.

I’m not sure if they aren’t lovable people though. I’ll use the lines from my next novel to elucidate that point

“Structurally, a moth and a butterfly are the same. They both have wings and I hear that they come from the same family. It’s just that one is beautiful, has spots and stripes and the other is plain and ordinary. Yet, in our minds we love one and abhor the other.
We’re all flawed like the moth. It’s just that some of us have money, beauty or fame to color our wings. It’s taken me a while to realize that moths are also beautiful.”

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Book Review : The Homing Pigeons

Image Courtesy: Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Blurb View:

In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar. Little does he know that his life will change forever.

When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it.

They say homing pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. The Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

Review:

I had opted to review this book reading truckloads of accolades from reviewers everywhere. If you have read my previous reviews, you might be knowing that I’m weary of reading innumerable romance novels these days. Yet, the keyword on the blurb which appealed to me was ‘recession.’ Being a victim of this menace myself, I wanted to know how the author handled it in this book. And I wasn’t disappointed. The blurb promised a love story and it is one, albeit a different one.

The story revolves around the two main protagonists – Aditya and Radhika, and is narrated from their perspectives in alternate chapters. Fair enough, it starts with Aditya, the victim of 2008 recession. What would you do if you lose your job? Has the thought ever crossed your mind, dear reader? Deplete all your money, worsen relation with your immediate family, lose your senses, cater to various addictions, fall prey to weird situations – All of these happened to Aditya and he became a gigolo. I will not divulge the circumstances that made Aditya do whatever he did with a makeshift profession. I will not judge the author for the profession he adorned his protagonist with. All I can say is that loss of a high-profile job and an absolute penniless condition can turn people into different personalities altogether. It happened to Aditya in the book, and it definitely happened to many people in reality who had lost everything during a recession. The other protagonist Radhika has a complicated past and present, and probably a future too, as the book ends with such a hint. They never fall out of love, and yet are never meant to be together.

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