Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Review: Land of the Well

Author: Sampurna Chattarji
Reviewed by: Madhulika Mitra 

Too many elements took away the story.
One book which I was totally looking forward to has disappointed me at quite a few places. The snippet behind the book increased my curiosity levels and made me feel that it would be a good read. Quickly getting to the main theme of the book, it’s about youngsters who are totally misguided by the idea of Death.
The story is set up in Goa, away from the fun and the frolic (surprised? It was off season in Goa), about a young lad who has just finished his 12th exams, brilliant but very protected by his parents. This youngster has a very sad story to share about not having friends ever, always being shielded by his mom and dad, no decision of his own. For a boy of his age where independence is everything, he was being caged. And when you are sad you are vulnerable. This is where the other characters of the story enter Goa and the story begins. And he who is in dire need of friends gives in everything to be in their gang.
For the first time in life he breaks away from his cage and demands to stay back in Goa for a few more days alone. The strength to take this stand comes from straight from his heart after he sees a pretty girl whom he gets attracted to from the very moment he sees her. But she is not alone. She comes with a group of friends very weird in their own ways but with even more weird names.
He does manage to stay back after his parents leave, finally gets to taste independence but everything comes with a price tag. So what price does he pay: something which really shook me off.   He meets them, gets their approval to be one among them, gets their appreciation but is all that for real or a very big trap he is unaware of. The book really held me till he narrates the story of “land of the well” but then the only constant term and feeling in the book was DEATH.
All these friends are traumatized scared and have almost stopped living their life because they are scared they would die someday. To be very honest I did not understand the book after a point, could be because it was beyond my understanding levels or because I always search stuff which I can relate to or a feel good/bad (this din feel anything-may be too mournful). There are a lot of crisscrossed love stories, lot of deaths and one murder or maybe not hidden in the story.
My advice: Pick up the book and try to finish it at one go. If not you might lose the flow.
After a point the book had a lot of repetitions of the same incidents, same characters and failed to leave a mark in my mind. I do not know which adjective I should associate with the book: Spiritual, philosophical, or morose.  It’s for you if you can associate to one of these attributes closely. I would not agree that it was a mystery or even if it was, it was not carried out properly.  A little lesser pages with a little more of suspense/proper story line would have done justice to the book.

Review: The Edge of Desire

Author: Tuhin Sinha
Reviewed by: Purvi Shah

The Edge of Desire is a story of a female, who is raped and that event shapes up her life as a politician, seemngly changing the future course of events for the country. The inspiration comes from the age old epic "Mahabharata" where  Draupadi's cheer haran lays the foundation for the battle. 

There are principally two kinds of writers. One , who start a story and shape is up as the heart goes or as the pen prevails, the others who outline a story, chart out the characters, frame the sequence and go by joining the dots. Essentially a difference between way of thinking, but the end product of this book, makes you think of the latter ones.

The two central characters, Shruti and Sharad seem to have a lot in common. They are both enigmatic public personalities with a drive to do something for the country. Both politicians with failed marriages, lonely and depicting shades of grey. Yet they do not have a clearly defined relationship. They are not friends, they do not fall in love, they are colleagues, yes. Tuhin Sinha tries to define their relationship making them the modern day Draupadi and Krishna of the Mahabharata, citing the example many a times comparing various turns of events in the story. Not very convincingly , though.

The story does not rise and fall, or has many , sorry any highs and lows, mostly revolving around the Indian political scenario in the 70's and 80's. Except for the rape of the central female character, which is pivotal in her joining Indian politics, the story moves on pretty much like a daily soap.

Also , an important aspect, I noticed throughout is that: There are descriptions of emotional turmoils Shruti faces many a times (but as would be clearly evident to any female reader) and  all of them, I repeat ALL of them are starkly from a male viewpoint. When the author has attempted so much research on politics, the Mahabharata, etc, he should have done a little homework on the female psyche, especially since the book is in the first person, a memoir of Shruti, and if a female cannot relate to the emotional punch at all....I don't know what to say.

On that note, I leave it  for the reader to figure out whether to like the book or not. Its a difficult one to label and very tough to review. I would give it a 5 on 10. A good read for the political minds, maybe...