Written with élan

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, which was on the Booker short list 2014, is a saga of Bengali upper middle-class life juxtaposed against the Naxal movement of the late 1960s. Sketched on a large tapestry and involving three generations of members of a joint family who live in a sprawling multi-storeyed bungalow in Bhowanipore, this is no diaspora take on life in 1960s-‘Calcutta’. The hard-bound volume of 500 pages revolves around a people who have no sahib -connect or English-proficiency; they think, thankfully, in the vernacular; and effectively so, which is to the author’s credit. Continue reading

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Portraits Across the Window: My first fiction publication this year

This is my first publication in 2013. Thankyou Desi Writer’s Lounge for the space.

Portraits across the Window

She watched the bogies chug out in slow rhythmic dance, each passing scene an accelerating cameo as the train gathered speed. A blotched sky in dull grey moved into view followed by an empty platform dotted with dusty merchandise on tired cartwheels. On the upper berths, her father-in-law’s snores competed with those of her husband. Her mother-in-law reclining on the other lower berth did not snore, but slept with her mouth open and the saree’s edge cautiously pulled over her greying hair even in sleep; her dark chequered hanky was spread over her eyes and covered most of her face.

She counted their bags once more from her prone posture on the lower berth. She could see the two tin suitcases into which various household articles and basic condiments had been packed for their new life ahead. Then there was one red duffle bag with some clothing and two cane baskets, the last containing food to last them through the journey. Two black duffle bags full with her trousseau were stuffed under her berth and she put her hand out to feel one of them, the other was tucked away too far for her reach. Left with nothing to do, she trained her eyes upon the platform again. Continue reading

The Good Old Whodunit: A Review of JFK by Jhangir Kerawala

 

JFK book cover

Jhangir Kerawala’s JFK might, at the first instance, lead you to think so, but the book has nothing to do with the U.S. Presidential elections or the assassination of that former President of the same name.  This is a simple thriller, a story set in the streets of Kolkata, a whodunit right in the traditions of the city of Feluda. The man who goes after the killer is not a dashing, specially gifted or fated-to-be-solver of crime, but someone like you or me, with a perfectly day-to-day profile. He is out-of-work, job-hunting, middle-aged, and his life is slowly turning sour because of his unemployed status, which again is his own fault. His only oasis in this life is his pal Manish, who is everything he is not and his support in troubled times right from day one. So, Jatin the hero, is thrown off his balance when Manish- the-alter-ego, calls him up on a rather bad line, and says ‘JFK”, and the next thing he knows is that Manish has been murdered. Continue reading

Tales from the Marvellous and the Real: : Boats on Land by Janice Pariat, A Review

BOATS ON LAND Cover

Fiction voices from the Seven Sisters have always been distinct, with a flavour of the elusive or the mysterious, and with the depth of the unusual and the rare. With the IWE (Indian Writing in English) in bloom, many writers with an authentic voice on the region have made the cut in literary fiction — Mitra PhukanJahnavi Barua and Anjum Hasan, to mention a few. Janice Pariat now joins this pantheon of excellence with her debut anthology, Boats on Land.

There are 15 stories, all of which cover the period from British colonial rule to the hartal-ridden, angst-filled, factionalism-threatened today — that’s about two hundred years. As we read from the first story to the last, the events unfold in chronological order with different protagonists. Continue reading