Mahashweta By Sudha Murthy is the book that I finished reading this weekend. Rather than a collection of short stories this is instead a novela.
This book has been recommended to me by at least 2 people and this is also considered to be the best work by Murthy. Now having read enough of her I did had my expectations set beforehand and thankfully they were met.
The story revolves round a lady Anupama who is beautiful beyond words, while she is enacting in a Sanskrit play titled ‘Mahashweta’ she catches the fancy of the renowned and rich doctor Anand. Both of them get married and Anand has to leave for England for further studies. Anupama develops a case of leukoderma and she is shunned by all and even her in laws throw her out of her home. Even Anand doesn’t support her and leaves her to fend for herself. After a long fight to get back with Anand, Anupama looses all hopes and then gathers all her courage and moves to Mumbai and makes a good career for herself.
The story is set in the state of Karnataka but is pretty much true for any other part of India. There was a time when leukoderma and Leprosy were considered to be a curse of God. People who used to contract such disease were ostracized by the society. I do remember that time and remember it quite well because when I was growing up I heard many initiatives taken by government to curb this disease and create awareness among masses. I myself wrote and delivered a speech on leprosy (and won a prize too :-)) when in school.
Getting back to the book, Sudha Murthy’s books feel like a different breeze altogether (mostly breeze blowing in the small towns and villages), it takes you back to those early days when India was very much different from now on. The small towns, people within, their conversations are so grasped and expressed by the author that it brings a feeling of read something fresh.
Her writings are good but then you can just read them every now and then and some people who are serious fiction readers might not even like her books. But definitely Mahashweta for me scores among the top books by her.
I specially liked the postscript, being an author you sometime don’t realize how your stories can touch other people lives.
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The book that I managed to finish last week was “One Hundred Names” by Cecelia Ahern.
Now I have never heard about this book and had no idea what this book is about. The reason I picked up this book was because in the library I rent from this showed up to be one of the most rented book and had good ratings.
One thing I noticed about books is, it so often happens that if the book doesn’t excite you in the first few pages then probably it won’t even when you reach till the end. This was pretty much the case with this book, the starting wasn’t exciting (to say the least) and after reading a few pages I had this strong urge to put down the book and move to another one but then my habit of not being able to leave the book in the middle kicked in and I progressed.
The story is pretty ordinary, Katherine Logan a journalist fuck up one of his story and she and her company are sued, no publishing house is ready to take her in, she is bombarded with all sorts of hate acts and her life is in complete disarray. Her only good friend Constance who believed in her is struggling from cancer and dies. She leaves Katherine with a list of 100 names around which Katherine has to write a story, a sort of tribute to Constance. She has no idea what the story is and slowly starts reaching out to people in the list to find that every person has his/her own story and though not necessarily what she is looking for but pretty interesting. She starts getting to know these people better, starts being part of their lives one is a hair dresser, one is an old lady who has won a 10K bet, one is famous for breeding butterflies and so on.
None of the stories are good or even interesting. How they link to each other is even lame. At times you would feel like the characters are there to fill the pages, stories are going on to thicken the book . There is no real emotion although author tries hard to depict love, pain, and what not. But for me she did not succeed at all. Even the story being set in Ireland didn’t add any new angle to it. It could well have been in Rome or Senegal.
The only thing that goes for the book is that it is a simple read, more of a chick book.
Don’t pickup the book but if you have to then don’t expect to find anything interesting or worthwhile in the book.
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Now call this a coincidence but I had always wanted to read “The Great Gatsby” by F.Scott Fitzgerald. And when I was reading the “Reading Lolita in Tehran” and there was a discussion about it, I felt how could I have missed this the so-called ‘American Classic’. But still it was sometime before I could lay my hands on it.
And the coincidence that I was talking about was that this book is again getting the spotlight (even in India) with a new motion picture by Buz Lurhman getting released this year, also starring our own Amitabh Bachchan and its premiere happened only a couple of days back at NYC (as per continuous updates by Mr. Bachchan on twitter and FB).
Now back to the book, ” The Great Gatsby” (I prefer to call it a novella) is set in 1920’s and showcases American dream, how a man rises shortly and can come down even faster. Some may look at it as a love story and some about American Dreams and both the views are fine.
Gatsby a self made millionaire has a mansion in long Island and throws lavish parties but is always in search of his lost love Daisy Buchanan. He reconnects with her through his neighbor Nick Carraway who become a sort of friend to him. Gatsby’s life is all about the American way of life in the 1920’s and is aptly caught in the last few lines
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–”
The Great American novel ? I am not sure about that but it sure is a good novella. However by the end of it I did feel that it was short and another 100 pages could have done much justice to the plot but then probably its brevity is its biggest seller.
I felt all the characters were incomplete except for Gatsby’s but Fitzgerald did a good job fitting all in 180 pages. His style of writing is impeccable and the prose just perfect. You can continue to read it without hiccups. This has prompted me to read other works by him.
One strange thing happened while reading it, I heard of the motion picture coming based on this book featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Mcguire, etc. but I haven’t viewed any movie trailers but I could visualize DiCaprio playing the role of Gatsby in every page (although I am not even sure if he is the one playing Gatsby) but whatever I have seen of him in previous movies I am sure he would do justice to ‘Gatsby’ character. I for sure am waiting for Buz Lurhman’s creation based on this classic.
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