Nadia Hashimi debuted with ‘The Pearl That Broke Its Shell’, which soon topped many bestseller charts. While that book described the trials & tribulations of two Afghan females from different generations, while highlighting the ugly menace of ‘Bacha Posh tradition’ in Afghanistan, ‘A House Without Windows’ is different. It is set in modern post-Taliban Afghanistan, a land torn by years of war, trying its best to adapt modern code of conduct, but still tightly shackled in the traditions of past where a woman’s testimony is still counted as half of that of man and her honor is something that lies between her legs and must be protected at all costs.
Zeba has killed her husband (or she hasn’t) and has been put into Chil Mahtab, a women’s prison. Yusuf is an Afghan-born, American raised lawyer who is willing to put all his efforts to get Zeba acquitted. Then there is Gulnaz, Zeba’s mother, the sorceress of yesteryears who is all set to put her powers in use to get Zeba out of Chil Mahtab. The book, with its description of ‘jadu’ (magic) has a mysterious touch to it, even when dealing with the sensitive topic of ‘zina’ (adultery). I did find the narration a bit dragging, but still it never digressed from the core plot- the trial of Zeba. A satisfying & engaging read to start off my reading journey of 2018.
This is one book in a long long time that I finished in less than 12 hours- I picked it up and just couldn’t put it down! “An Unsuitable Boy” is Karan Johar unabashed, unadulterated and unedited! If you have watched lots of “Koffee with Karan” episodes, you can actually read the book in his own voice- it feels as if he is sitting just in front of you rambling, bitching, dissing and appreciating.
With an innocent, no-nonsense narration, Karan Johar bares his heart out in this memoir- his initial struggles with weight, low self esteem and being effeminate, his emotional equations with an aging father & a strict mother and so on. Then there is an entire chapter on ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ which is an admirable account of how a young boy with an experience of just one movie (he was the assistant director of DDLJ) came, saw and conquered. In this book Karan has been extremely open and candid about everything- his vanities, struggles, vulnerabilities, anxiety issues, fallout with Kajol, his relation with Shah Rukh and Aditya Chopra and in my opinion he couldn’t be any more honest and profound.
The chapters where he puts down his struggles and vulnerabilities of consolidating Dharma Productions (having no sense of business whatsoever) are not only gripping but also motivating. The book has its own share of vanity, flamboyance and elitism and Karan never tries to hide it. Neither he tries to be politically correct while saying “Screw you” to all his twitter trolls. The book might seem a bit dragging when he discusses his friendships but then it looks justifies given the fact that how emotionally attached he is with his friends. At the end he even reveals that he is thinking of having a child just because of a selfish reason that he wants someone to take care of him when he gets old! All in all, this is a candid, gripping and honest memoir- something that has come straight from Karan’s heart and deserves a read for sure.
There are books that you like, there are books that you love and then there are books that shake you, make you introspect and force you to rethink about many conventions, comfort and things that you take for granted. The story of a neurosurgeon (Dr. Paul Kalanithi) dealing with terminal cancer, written by himself and the epilogue written by her wife after his death- the memoir is not only different & ground-breaking because of its theme & content. What makes the book that it has become to be is that Dr. Kalanithi, who had been a literature major and then, being a neurosurgeon, had seen & experienced death & its various manifestations and consequences, has woven an extremely pristine & profound piece of memoir. ‘When breath becomes air’ is a meditation on death, the practice of neuroscience & neurosurgery, god & metaphysics and the gory question of “What matters & what not when your time is limited”
As Indians, we often relate ‘poverty’ to rural and bucolic. The moment we encounter the word ‘poverty’, images of emaciated poor people living in mud houses in unhygienic surroundings envelop our mind
“Who me, Poor?” by Gayatri Jayaraman captures something we all know about, still feel awkward and uneasy to discuss even if it’s happening to us or our closed ones- Urban Poverty. The book has multiple first person anecdotes, ‘struggler’ stories and case studies of urban people who are cutting on their food, living standards and health just for the hope of making it big someday. All anecdotes are followed by a thorough analysis by the author on the reasons behind this phenomenon- what drives the millennials to succumb to pressure and live life on debts, loans and credits. The role played by evolution of cashless economy, corporate work culture, expensive degrees, overemphasis on ‘networking’, in the exacerbation of this menace has also been clearly analyzed.
The book discusses a much less talked about but an inescapable menace that is making its headway (infact, has already made) in Indian urban fabric. The author has done a commendable job in putting together relevant anecdotes and case studies, though the analysis part has turned out to be a bit complex. A few sentences might seem unnecessarily intertwined, thus undermining the sole purpose that the book is supposed to deliver- acquainting the reader about the phenomenon of Urban Poverty in India and its various manifestations.
All in all, the book is an impressive and well-researched work and I look forward to read more from the author in future.
While I write this review, I am simultaneously thinking if there is a way to give a negative rating- negative because the 2nd half of the book ruins all the charm and exuberance that I felt for the unearthly prose and surreal analogies in the 1st half of the book. I wonder why Ms. Roy didn’t go ahead with another non-fiction if all she had to do was to push her propaganda with a fiction that she came up after 20 years of the legendary “God of Small Things”
The first half of the book narrates the story of a transgender Anjum, her trials & tribulations as he transitions from Aftab to Anjum, her life and struggles as a “hijra” in contemporary Delhi and her coming out of age when she finally chooses to be independent and make a graveyard her permanent dwelling. Even in this half, Ms. Roy leaves no stone unturned to propagate her political beliefs- addressing Modi as “Gujarat ka Lalla”, incongruous addition of 2002 Gujarat riots- calling those who burnt the train as ‘miscreants’ while the Hindus become ‘Hindu Terrorists’. However, this half still mostly revolves around Anjum’s life, her maternal feelings and finally her independence.
Come the 2nd half and the reader is introduced with the Kashmir issue and this is where Ms. Roy completely loses it and pours all her hatred for the Indian Army on the pages. The prose becomes extremely chaotic, interspersed with multiple anecdotes of army’s cruelty in Kashmir and for hundreds of pages, the story seems to go nowhere. The reader is made to believe that all the army has done is killing innocent civilians.
I had been anxiously waiting for this book, had pre-booked it months ahead in advance (and hence got an author-signed copy) but now I feel sorry that I have to abandon this book. 20 years after The God Of Small Things, Roy is more of an activist rather than an author and this clearly shows up in the book. Expecting another path-breaking narrative from her was a gross mistake from my side.
I am glad and thankful to Bloomsbury India for sending me a review copy of this groundbreaking work of fiction, even before it was long-listed for Man Booker 2017 award.
I had never read Shamsie before and heard great deal about her for “A God in Every Stone” and “Cartography“. When I received this book, I had no plans to finish it in almost one go, but the plot ensuring emotionally upheavals and a crisp, no-nonsense narration just didn’t let me go before I reached the last page.
“Home Fire” is a classical example of having multifarious themes enter-wined in one book- Familial love & loss, xenophobia, extremism, terrorism, religion, politics and then the space where all these collide.
Aneeka & Parvaiz are British Muslim twins, brought up by their elder sister Isma after their father left them for Jihad and their mother passed away eventually. After Aneeka is old enough to join the law school and Parvaiz has disappeared, Isma also leaves for USA to pursue her PhD. In USA he meets, Eamonn, son of a powerful British politician who had an malignant history with their family. Eamonn then also meets Aneeka after returning to London and what ensues between them brings the world upside down for all three of them.
The ending of the book is explosive and it uncannily reminded me of the ending of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist“. The author has shown a great deal of maturity in dealing with the topics of xenophobia & discrimination against Muslims in West and have subtly highlighted their plight.
I would be glad to see this book make it to the Booker shortlist because I feel more and more people should read this book to expand their perspective and thought process towards the families of those who are involved in war/extremism/terrorism. This book will break your heart but will still leave you with a typical feeling of having a satisfying read.
It was 21st November 2017, when I had my 1st reject. I am not talking about resume rejects (had already faced enough of them already). It was the pre-process of AbInBev where I was rejected after 10 minutes of GD. Before I could understand what exactly was happening, the GD ended, 5 people were selected and rest were asked to leave. I got an indication and sense of what I have to face in rest 3 days. By the time I reached back to my room, I had some new emails- Resume rejects from Max, JnJ and HealthifyMe (I had no clue why) and shortlists from Samsung, Godrej and DHR (again, I had no clue why!)
Mohali people had arrived and were staying at a Hotel. In evening, I packed a few clothes for the night, my laptop and went to the hotel to stay overnight with 2 friends of mine. The idea was to relax myself a bit and get a change from the overtly tense environment of the campus.
I had to submit a case for PhonePe pre-process interview the next day (22nd November 2017). It was almost 5 AM by the time I finished the case. I decided to wait till 6 AM (that’s the time when the schedule of the entire day is mailed!!). I realized I had 8 pre-process interviews/GDs lined up for the day. I slept for 2 hours and left hotel at 8 AM.
My first GD was for Star scheduled at 11:40 AM. But they were running late and HUL GD was scheduled at 12. I decided to skip Star and join it at some later slot. HUL GD was exactly like AbInBev, except I really think I performed decently this time. But I was again not selected. Next was Samsung. The GD was at some place in the campus where I had not visited before. I had to run to reach on time and was already sweating by the time I reached the venue. The GD had already started and they asked me to come after 2 hours as it was not likely that 8 more people will be gathered immediately for another GD round. Dejected, I returned back to the academic block for PhonePe interview.
PhonePe interview started on a good note (it was more of a case discussion) but by the end, I knew I had messed it. I was tired and was suggesting some really un-scalable ideas as an aspiring Brand Manager. The case discussion went on for 40-45 minutes but somehow I already knew that I won’t be able to make it. I ran to the Samsung venue, where they informed me that all the GD rounds were already over and they can’t accommodate me.
Now I had only Godrej (6 PM) and DHR (11.30 PM) Pre-Process left. Godrej’s was again a GD round. It was an infrastructure based case and I really couldn’t perform well there too. I returned to my room by 7 PM by had no energy or even motivation left to go for DHR Pre-Process. But the only thing that gave me a reason to go ahead was the fact that DHR’s pre-process was a 15 minute interview and not a GD. I had just applied to DHR because it had a Sales & Marketing role and hadn’t even bothered to look at their JD.
I finally opened DHR’s JD Document and to my utter surprise DHR stood for Danaher and the role was Marketing for one of their Dental Product brand- Kavo Kerr. I saw a ray of hope and tried to prepare for interview but literally had no energy to do so. I slept for 1 hour and left for the interview venue at 10.30 PM.
My interview started at 11.30 PM and went for only 10 minutes. At 2.45 AM, I had 3 mails- reject from Samsung & Godrej and selected for Round 2 of Danaher.
The Next day was Day 1.1 (23rd November 2017)- the first day of the placement season. I was left with only two shortlists- Danaher & Directi (who had shortlisted almost everyone).