On Books & Reviews

The desert stories

IMG_20190620_152555_Bokeh__01__01__01Reviewing Anukrti Upadhyay’s twin novellas – Bhaunri & Daura

In June at my favourite bookstore, Nirav Mehta of Broke Bibliophile comes up to me and asks if I have read ‘her’ books? These are translations of Rajasthani folktales he said. My interest piqued, I took the books from his hand and started reading the back cover. After a few minutes, I went searching for him to tell him that these were definitely not translations but interesting nonetheless. Seeing the books in my hand, the bookstore staff also mentioned that she is a new author and a must-read. That kind of sealed the deal for me.

Touted as twin novellas – Bhaunri and Daura couldn’t be more different than each other in style and treatment. Reimagined tales of the desert is the only commonality between the two.

Bhaunri is a raw love story. Something you would expect coming from the Thar. A gypsy woman is married to an unfaithful husband. Despite trying to get him to care for, accept her and be monogamous he refuses to surrender. He falls for her charms and does accept her as his wife in all aspects but refuses to be monogamous. Will Bhaunri accept his behaviour? If not, till what lengths is she ready to go to make him comply. Find your answers in this short novella which will keep you gripped right till the last word.

Having read KR Meera’s Poison of Love just a few weeks before this, I can’t help but compare how the two women, when faced with similar situations, dealt with it so differently. One by afflicting pain on themselves the other by ensuring she got her way even if she had to destroy the one she loved. The last few lines of Bhaunri is extremely haunting, “Now he will stay at home always, now he belongs to me…”

Daura, on the other hand, is magical, mystical and carries secrets of the desert. Secrets which unravel themselves bit by bit as you read each narrator’s version and connect the dots. Daura is the journey of a District Collector who comes to survey his area and apparently has a bout of madness and then suddenly disappears. As the search continues and the stories are heard, you get transported from the real world into one where anything could be true if you had faith. There is no explanation for unwavering belief and Daura captures the sentiment gracefully.

If your roots are somewhere in the desert and you want to feel connected to it or want the Indian taste of magic realism, these two should be under your consideration list – more Daura than Bhaunri. I would certainly keep Anukrti Upadhyay on my watch list too and love to see what’s the next story she weaves. Interestingly, these two are not her first published work. She is a bilingual writer and her first book, Japani Sarai, is in Hindi. Do check that out as well.

On Books & Reviews

An inspiring read

The Corridor of Uncertainty: How Cricket Mended a Torn NationThe Corridor of Uncertainty: How Cricket Mended a Torn Nation by Nihar Suthar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A comprehensive light read, The Corridor of Uncertainty is definitely well researched. It’s the fictional story of young Afghan refugees at the Pakistani camp who dreamed of uniting a nation torn with conflict by playing a sport.

The opening pages of the book promised that it would try and avoid cricket jargon and keep it a smooth read for those who don’t understand the game. The story focuses more on the struggle of the young boys in getting a team together till their journey to qualifying for the World Cup 2015.

Thoroughly enjoyable and peppered with comic exchanges between the main protagonists, the story gives you a certain kind of hope. With the current situation worldwide, this story brings respite and resilience in times of despair.

All in all a must read for any cricket lover and otherwise. Anyone looking for something inspiring must pick this up!

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On Books & Reviews

A troublesome journey…

HELL HEAVEN & IN-BETWEEN: One Woman's Journey to Finding LoveHELL HEAVEN & IN-BETWEEN: One Woman’s Journey to Finding Love by Kathryn Hurn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me almost a month to finish this book. Was it so long that it deserved that time or was it so intense that I couldn’t read more than few chapters a day?

This book was more like reading someone’s diary than a women’s search for just love. It was her entire journey from where she realised who she was, what she has done and how to make the difficult decision of moving on and what follows.

If I wasn’t gifted this book to read and review by the author, I would have probably given up somewhere in the middle. But I just needed to do justice to it and believe that it would make a difference. Somewhere I was so engrossed in Lucy’s emotions that I started feeling those in my relationship as well. Somewhere I just wanted Lucy to move on and to get what she wanted out of life. I knew she and the love of her life would end up together. Kathryn gave that up in the beginning of Volume 2, but how and how long would her ordeal last was not explained. I felt Lucy had the patience of a Victorian heroine something which seems to reoccurring in modern times – while one part of us fights to be independent the other wants to be loved and be provided for irrespective. Ambition does not take away the desire to be loved. Work does not satisfy us emotionally as it would a 21st century man for whom money is more important than a loving relationship.

The book takes you on a journey and you need to patient to let it unravel for you. My three star rating is for some loose ends in the book and the ending. It feels like it could be better rounded off than rushed into given the pace of the earlier portions. I definitely feel it could be way shorter and edited some more.

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