Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
I recently read a very interesting book called ‘The Life’s Too Short Literary Review 01: New Writing from Pakistan’. It is an anthology of Pakistani writings which is very bold, entertaining and engaging. The book has some amazing stories which will keep you hooked to the very end.
I am a huge fan of Pakistani writing and have read most of the books coming from writers across the border. But what I particularly liked about the stories here was that they are not the usual stuff that one expects or for that matter of a Pakistan one usually watches on television. Except for maybe two stories Bilal Tanveer’s To Live- a brilliant read and Aziz A Sheikh’s Six Fingered Man.
The anthology hence makes for a very refreshing read. The book also contains some excerpts; I liked Husain Iqbal’s Challawa this excerpt features the amorous adventures of a lesbian lady detective, Sabiho Bano (translated from Urdu by Mohammed Hanif) and the other excerpt from a graphic novel Rabbit Rap which I found particularly vague. A photo essay and a non-fiction piece of work called The Last Moghul of Shalimar also find a place in this anthology. Yes unusual but appealing stories that a reader will enjoy.
The other stories worth a mention here would be The Wedding by Sarwat Yasmeen Azeem and Madiha Sattar’s Ruth and Richard.
All in all if you are a fan of Pakistani writers or you would want to read something out of the ordinary and refreshing pick this book up. You won’t regret it.
The book has been edited by Faiza S Khan:
Faiza S Khan is a Karachi-based columnist and book and film critic whose work has appeared in , magazine, , and the . She founded and co-administrates the .
Shivani was the pseudonym of writer Gaura Pant (1923-2003). Shivani attained cult status in the Hindi literary world in the 1960s and ‘70s and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1983. Her book Apradhini, written in Hindi and now translated by her daughter Ira Pande is a collection of stories of ordinary women with extraordinary pasts.
Apradhini carries stories of women Shivani had met on her visit to women’s prison. It is a story she heard from the inmates’ mouths and what drove them to the edge to take law in their own hands. The book is divided in three parts and every story is gut wrenching and heartwarming. Part 1 has stories of the inmates while part 2 and 3 has stories of women she met in the normal course of life. Each story is fascinating and is non judgmental.
The book will keep you hooked and at most times make you sympathise with the women and the situation they face. Some of my picks from the book would be Muggi, Chanuli, Pagaliya, A mother’s prayer, Dhuan, Ama and Naseem.
The stories have been sensitively written and are packed with emotions. Some stories brought tears to my eyes and made me want to stop reading but also at the same time wanted me to continue reading.
It is a pity that I wouldn’t have been able to read these stories or any of Shivani’s work if it wasn’t translated. Lots of great work written in regional languages definitely deserves a wider audience. Translation of such work should be actively encouraged and pursued.
The book is a very interesting read and I look forward to reading more of Shivani’s work.
About the Author:
Shivani’s other best known works include Chaudah Phere, Krishnakali, Smashan Champa, Rati Vilap and Vishkanya.
Translated by: Ira Pande:
Ira Pande has worked as a University teacher, writer, editor and in television. She is the editor of the IIC Quarterly and the author of critically acclaimed Diddi: My Mother’s Voice. She was awarded the 2008 Vodafone-Crossword Indian Language Fiction Prize for her translation of Manohar Shyam Joshi’s T’Ta Professor.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Five individuals brought together by a friend to spill their guts, bare their souls and in the process, to embark upon a journey of self-discovery and...and...what? Inner peace? Forgiveness? Redemption? Perhaps a melange of all the above...
This is the premise for Raksha Bharadia’s, “All and Nothing.” A successful author in the self-help genre (Me: A Handbook for Life; Roots and Wings), Raksha is also the first Indian editor of the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series, having edited close to a dozen best-selling titles. So the expectations from her first ever work of fiction were high.
And she has met those expectations with confidence and elan!
An engaging book, the characters introduced to us by Raksha have a disquieting sense of familiarity – maybe we can recognise qualities and traits of friends and family members in them; maybe we can even see bits of ourselves in them.
Beautiful, talented and sensitive, artist Tina believes she has found the perfect husband in Aditya. However, her seemingly made-in-heaven marriage turns awry as Tina unsuccessfully struggles to free Aditya from the shackles of his past – a past which he can’t seem to break free of, nor does he seem to want to. His betrayal almost pushes back...almost. Just as she’s about to teeter over the edge, she pulls back and realises there life is still worth living. One just needs to break free from one’s shackles of sadness and be brave enough to make a grab for that cloud of happiness. And it is this new-found realisation of hers that she wishes to share with her closest friends, all of whom she knows would benefit from it: celebrated fashion-designer Kriya who has a sordid secret; confident, beautiful socialite Poorvi whose sense of self-worth seems to hinge on the one thing that she does not have; Manas, suffering from a broken heart and bruised ego; and domestically-abused Upasana, an intelligent woman who should know better.
Raksha allows us to be a voyeur into the lives of all the characters and as we listen to them relive their lives and spill out their secrets, we can feel their pains, their dilemmas and the result is sometimes shock, sometimes judgemental – after all, we can’t help but be.
And it is this, my personal sense of judgement, of right and wrong, of punishment and redemption, that threw up a few dislikes, because I didn’t believe in the final resolutions of some of the characters. I think Aditya got off waaaaayyyyy too easy, Antara (Aditya’s ex-wife) deserved to face some sort of hell and Poorvi’s route to deliverance was a cop-out.
But then, that’s just me. I am not as forgiving of crimes and faults as others are. I have a harsher sense of fairness than others. But like I said, that’s just me. To others, probably everything falls into place perfectly and ties up tidily. And still, there may be others who might feel some of the characters suffered too much in their own personal purgatories and should have been let off more lightly.
However, that’s the delightful thing about reading isn’t it? The characters and experiences colour your world as much as you allow your world to colour your reading of that fictional world.
For a first book, Raksha has done a fine job! It makes us eagerly await her next one. After all, a good start only guarantees a great follow-up, right?