Where the Rain is born  – Anita Nair  #BookReview

Where the Rain is born – Anita Nair #BookReview

Rain is synonymous with Kerala.  As a Malayalee (person from Kerala),  I naturally love the monsoon rains.  The title itself drew me to the book.  This is not just one book.  It has many books within it.  The book is a mixture of 34 fictional stories, poems, non-fiction,  essays,  POVs from writers in Kerala,  or writers writing about Kerala.  Also, all the stories are not about rain.

The book starts off with the first story which tells us about where the rain is born.  This short non-fiction account is taken from the book ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ written by journalist and travel-writer Alexander Frater.   He recounts how he witnessed the rain being born at the southern-most tip of Kerala.  He is at the Kovalam beach with a bunch of weathermen, journalists and other enthusiasts.  The south-western monsoon clouds make it’s first landing here and thus the rain is born.  This place Kovalam is just about 50 km from my hometown Varkala.  Thus we probably see the first monsoon rains in India and never even knew about it.

Next is a short fiction by Shashi Tharoor called ‘Charlis and I’.  I loved the way the author has woven the progress of the different castes through the various policies in Kerala.  But still, it is a simple, heartwarming story about a few boys.  His language is impeccable.  On a similar vein is the story ‘A village before time’ by V K Madhavan Kutty. Continue reading

Son of Shiva by Preetha Rajah Kannan #BookReview

Son of Shiva by Preetha Rajah Kannan #BookReview

This is the second book of Preetha Rajah Kannan I am reading.  I had loved Shiva in the City of Nectar.  The book and a few other blogs had inspired me to travel to Madurai during the summer vacations.  So, when Jaico Publishing asked me to review this book,  I was more than happy to take the offer.

The Hindu religion is full of stories.  In fact,  in today’s terms,  I would call it mythological fantasy.  Each story more fantastic than the other.  There are the numerous re-tellings,  and local village stories pertaining to the Gods.  There is so much of religious literature in local languages that we the English readers are missing it.  So,  I am glad that Preetha has compiled a treasure trove of stories based upon the Tamil writings primarily from the book Sri Kandhapuranam written by Dr. Akila Sivaraman and other sources.  So,  is this a translation?  Not really.   The stories are put together following a sequence of events.  Back stories are highlighted as and when a character is touched upon.   Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.