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
Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has been getting mixed reviews. And there are some reviews where the author is blasted, but doesn’t look like the reviewer has read the book. With the plethora of reviews giving all the details of the plot, characters, editing, fiction, non-fiction, anger, nothing much is left to imagination.
I had read The God of Small Things (GOST) atleast a decade ago and I had forgotten how good Arundhati Roy, the writer is. I was reading an excerpt of her story in the book ‘Where the Rain is Born’ and am amazed at her use of words. She paints a vivid picture with her minimal words. I think I should read this book again. But here are a few lines for you to sample and decide on. She writes so beautifully, I have put in multiple lines. It was difficult for me to choose the best lines. Continue reading
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.