I’m excited to share the books I’ve enjoyed in January 2019!
Award-winning journalist P. Sainath’s ‘Everybody Loves a Good Drought’ is a relevant book, not because of its content, but because of what it taught me. it taught me that empathy without action is useless, and collectively we can find solutions to the deepening inequality, discrimination and the sophisticated forms of exclusion that plague India and the planet. This book is an archive and a first-hand glimpse into the problems faced by rural India. I’ve been shocked, humbled, heartbroken and petrified all at once. That India is dark and nightmarish is not news, what do I expect from a country run by corrupt, muddle-headed bureaucrats and a breed of media that just ignores to report from so many parts of this country. The only ray of hope is the resilience displayed by countless women, men, and children. Surviving this country is no easy task.
Benyamin’s ‘Jasmine Days’ has been competently translated from Malayalam by Shanaz Habib. What’s interesting is that Benyamin translated an epistolary novel by Sameera Parvin – ‘A Spring Without Fragrance’, which he was infatuated by. I read the foreword of this English translation first and realized I was committing myself to two novels instead of one. When I finished I found out that there’s a part two too, ‘Al Arabian Novel Factory’ and it will find its way into my hands in 2019. Borgesian overtones aside, the story is rife with a migrant girl’s exploration of freedom and tyranny, against the backdrop of a nameless city, the Arab Springs and revolutions.
Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians is an airplane-anxiety-busting-pageturner. The people in the book are richer than god. Here are my two reflections – Oxfam says that it takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime. Astrid’s hangar worthy closet of custom couture reminded me of the true cost of fashion. My second reflection was that since Amy Chau’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I hadn’t read a book about Asians! The fact that there are two more books about the same people makes me send silent hallelujah to Kevin Kwan!
The Dollmaker of Kraków by R.M. Romero is a very sad book. It’s about the brutal history of Nazi Germany juxtaposed against a fantasy world the Land of the Dolls, while the dolls get attacked by cruel rats, Poland gets attacked by the German occupation. The politics of being a refugee, the hardships that people endured during the cruel regime where the Nazis decimated the jews. I cried. Over and over again, it’s a dark book, which records the hatred and the evil that our world has experienced but it also records the power of music, friendship, love, and magic.
If you’ve read any or all, please write back and tell me what you thought of which book. I’d love to exchange ideas. Here they are!
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