Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan #BookReview

Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan #BookReview

Ponni’s Beloved is the translation of the classic Tamil historical novel called Ponniyin Selvan written at the beginning of the 20th century by Kalki Krishnamurthy.   The original book has 2400 pages split into five volumes.   The book narrates the story of Arulmozhivarman (later crowned as Rajaraja Chola I), one of the kings of the Chola Dynasty  during the 10th and 11th centuries.  (Source : Wikipedia)

Being a translation,  the plot and story is already good.  But,  let me add full marks to the translation.  A translated book is only interesting if it catches the essence and the mood of the original without sounding like a literal translation.  This one is surely well-translated.  The notes and ready pointers to meanings made it easier for reading the book.  In the e-book,  it was easy to navigate to the meanings and get back to the story.

Before reading this book,  I was not aware of its Tamil origins and had never heard about it.  It reinforces my faith that we should have more translations of regional books.  It is not possible to know all languages but why should we not be able to read good literature.  Follow the hashtag #ReadTranslations for more translated works.

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Love Sees No Reason by Reshma Ranjan #BookReview

Love Sees No Reason by Reshma Ranjan #BookReview

I won the book ‘Love sees no Reason’ by Reshma Ranjan during the Tornado Giveaway-3.  I loved the pretty cover and put it away to be read during one of those days when I feel like reading a bit of romance.  I was so wrong. I should have read the book right away.

Love Sees No Reason (LSNR) is a phrase which only those who have truly loved will understand.  It is illogical and listens to no reasoning.  The book starts with Ria running into the arms of Suhaan,  calling him Suhas and fainting.  It is a bit dramatic,  but it sets the tone for the rest of the book.  It is one of those stories which someone like a Bollywood director would love.  I had always secretly thought what it would be like if we fall in love with a twin.

Ria is in a marriage of convenience with Suraj who is having a terminal illness.  She goes into the marriage with her eyes open, with the sole objective of adopting Mia from an orphanage.  Again, it sounds cliche,  but the Love Sees No Reason.  As expected Suraj dies.  Suhaan is back at the haveli to look after family interests.  Ria has never met Suhaan and the scene above plays out when she meets him for the first time. Continue reading

Kissing the Demon by Amrita Kumar

Kissing the Demon by Amrita Kumar

When I read that first line of the book,  I knew it would be a fun ride.  For all those aspiring writers and  closet novelists this is a great reckoner to read.  Of course, the internet is full of similar stuff,  then why would one invest in another book to read.  It is because of the author Amrita Kumar’s experience of a lifetime spent with writers, editors and publishing houses.

Amrita Kumar is an anthologist, novelist, writing-mentor and creative writing teacher.  She has worked with the Government of India, Penguin India, Roli Books, HarperCollins, Rupa & Co., Encyclopaedia Britannica.  She was the editor of Indian Design and Interiors magazine.

Coming to the book, the first line itself hooks you with her funny take on Wren and Martin.  Here I was expecting a sermon on grammar ethics and she just made fun of it.  She further adds that as a writer,  she hates them but as an editor,  they deserve full respect.  She sets the tone and says this is not a ‘grammar rule book’.  And of course,  writing is not just about getting the grammar right.

When I started the book, I felt there are too many nuggets and I should highlight the ones I will return to.  But, when I started penciling the lines, I realized I might as well highlight the whole book.  Every paragraph is a step by step progression on how to write.

The book has 5 distinct sections dealing with various stages of the writer and writing from starting the book, plotting, narrating, characterization, ending and finally publishing.  She cheekily observes that a writer is someone who gets paid to write and when he puts the cheque in the bank, it does not bounce and the person is able to pay his bills with that money.  The author motivates you to write.  She talks about silencing the inner critic and fighting other demons.  For almost every point, she gives the example of various authors.  It shows the detailed research she has done for the book.  Of course,  she is good at it.  She has a whole chapter on doing meticulous research.

The section on Indian publishing is detailed due to her first hand experience.  It is a treasure trove of information.

I have not read any other book on writing though Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ has been forever on my wishlist. But this one should be read by all writers,  aspiring or not.

As the blurb rightfully says, ‘Kissing the Demon will make your journey as a writer a little less painful, make you look upon that demon with a little more love.’


I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

These Circuses that sweep through the Landscape by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm #BookReview

These Circuses that sweep through the Landscape by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm #BookReview

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers stay away from short stories.  But I enjoy reading them.  Writing a short story is an art in itself.  It is difficult to create a world, pull in the reader and make him care for the protagonist in so few words.  But a good story writer does exactly that.  And when you read a good story, you want to linger a little longer,  to stay in the same brief world and savour the beauty of it.  It should leave you with more questions as you begin to care and feel for the characters.

Tejaswini Apte-Rahm’s book is a delight.   The writing is top-notch. It reminded me of Jerry Pinto’s writing.   The book has 10 short stories.  Each story is unique.  All the stories are excellent.  But I will highlight the stories I loved.

The Mall :  A rich female shopper gets lost in a shopping mall.  She goes to the mall to buy things she doesn’t want which is a pea colored dress.  She gets it and then decides to get pea colored shoes to go with it.  She gets lost in the mall trying to find a way out.  She is directed by people to go to the 5th floor or the 3rd floor or to find a door at the end of another shop as there are no other exit doors.  Unable to go home,  she lives in the mall for months.  Since she has money,  her daily wants are taken care of.   She calls her friend who is in the mall to rescue her,  but she too leaves after some time.  The shopper then follows someone who is on the way out only to be roughed up for stalking.  She even feigns a medical emergency assuming the ambulance people will take her out,  but fails again.  The narrator’s antics are funny, desperate and sad at times.  You are reminded of the “poor little rich girl”.   She has all the money in the world to buy whatever she wants,  yet no one loves her or misses her enough to come and look for her.   Does it remind you of Facebook and Twitter followers?   Continue reading

We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I have to travel to a different city this month for work.  And my first thought was what will I wear to the meeting?  I was more worried about what time I will reach there,  where will I stay,  will my clothes be in synch with the trend there.  I realised,  I did exactly what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her book ‘We should all be Feminists’.  If I was a male,  I would have prepared my notes,  set up my schedule for the meeting.  But,  as a female,  I thought about that last.  Isn’t that how we are all wired to think?  Isn’t it a bit unfair that we have to worry about our appearance,  an external, superfluous facade while the men can just go in crumpled suits and bad hair and get the work done?

We should all be Feminists is an essay prepared by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  a Nigerian author, for a TedX talk in 2012.  It was published as a 52 pages book in 2014.  You should all read it, atleast once.   Or listen to the talk which is available on the net.

Chimamanda talks about the differences we apply when treating women,  just because they are women.  She says in her own words, ‘by being born female,  she is guilty of something.’    We women are victims of our own society,  in the way we are raised.  It is in the way we are asked to dress, not to appear too smart in front of a prospective groom,  look down when we talk,  do not raise your voice against men.  Well, we can have whole chapters on honour killing, female foeticide,  child marriages, sati.  Many of our laws also do not grant equal freedom or financial security to women.   We even have some famous phrases in Malayalam like, “when men are talking,  there is no need of a woman to give her views or concern as it is insulting to the men.”.  In fact,  when searching for a bride in the family,  we are put off if we have to speak with a woman even over the phone.  Comments like,  “the woman seems to be the decision maker in the house”  is passed and looked down at.  We have to put on symbols to show that we are married like the mangal sutra,  sindoor.  What about the men?  They do not have to declare their marital status so blatantly.  One of my woman friends started earning more than her husband.  I remember her mother was so concerned that the poor husband will feel bad about it.   Bad for what?  For being successful? For having an intelligent, educated and well-earning wife?  If it was the man,  the woman would have been proud about it and may have flaunted it.

Chimamanda has pointed out that we are doing a great “disservice”  not only in the way girls are brought up but also boys.  She says, ““We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them.  We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.”  As the mother of two boys,  I whole-heartedly agree with her.  Boys are automatically expected to study harder and earn better than their spouses.  It is mandatory that they should be a success financially.  It pressurizes the boys to get better jobs without giving a thought to what they want to be.  There is not much of creative freedom for them as well.  They have to be these aggressive,  strong and successful human beings who have to protect and support the females.  Why?  We do not want to be protected or supported.  Just let us be.   The recent suicide of a young man shook me.  He was successful in his studies and seemed a gentle soul.  But,  he was a failure in getting a job.  Ultimately he gave up.  If it was a female,  he would have worried about just getting married instead of feeling like a failure as she has the choice to remain unemployed.  But a man keeping house is somehow considered inferior or unsuccessful.  I wish we can stop gender stereo typing and let people be.  It is bad for the boys,  but worse for the girls.

When young, we give the girls wings to fly and tell them to reach for the stars.  As she grows older,  we tell her to fly slower than the boys and only take those stars left behind by the boys.  Further ahead,  we also tell her that she should not go for the stars. She should be glad that she has a place on earth.  Every day we kill her dreams one by one.

This book is full of similar thoughts,  things we take for granted never realising that we are contributing to the gender problems.  Read or hear this book.  Let it make you uncomfortable and change your ways in bringing up the next generation of boys and girls.  Highly recommended for all.

 

#MondayMusings