Posted in Books

Book Review: Untruly Yours, by Smita Shetty

About the author:
Smita Shetty has been in the creative field for over seven years. In her spare time, she enjoys involving herself with community work. Untruly Yours is her debut novel.

Thoughts on the cover page:
Beautifully designed. I think a cover should be appealing, and this one certainly is. It leaves us wondering if the book is equally as appealing.

Impressions from the blurb:
I quite feel a blurb shouldn’t be very long. This one is, and it gives out a little too much perhaps, almost as good as a spoiler. The story is probably going to be a love story, which transcends into marriage. After a while, the feelings may be starting to get muddled, which leads to confusion. The plot would look at solving the confusion and perhaps give it a proper ending.

My thoughts on the book:
I’m not a big reader of chick lit books. I’ve read very few (mostly by Preeti Shenoy), so when the author approached me to review her debut fiction Untruly Yours, I had just the slightest of hesitation. I should thank her though for sending a review copy to me, so I could read it sooner.

So the book is based around the life of Natasha, her eleven year old son and her family, now settled in the United States. She fell in love during her college days and didn’t look back after that. However, the story in itself is more like a mix of present life and memories of her past, both her memorable moments and some that she’d rather not remember. After many years of blissful married life, she begins to feel the emotions slowly dying away and begins to yearn for a little more excitement in her relationship. A call out of the blue, with bad news pertaining to an old friend, takes her back to India. Arriving there with her son and her US colleague Steve, she begins to turn to Steve for that excitement. When there is no movement on that front, she turns to her old collegemate and one time crush Veer. When that move turns her life upside down, she’s left troubled and forced into a decision, especially since she had been considering going away from her lack-of-romance husband.

What I like in the book is that it is not very drab or heavy. The book has an appealing tone of narration (as if the protagonist Natasha is actually sitting nearby and telling you her story as it happened) and it can be easily read within a few hours, like say when you are travelling. There are some parts that make you smile or chuckle, and some touchy ones. The portrayal of her mother-in-law during a visit to the US was very funny I feel. If you read between the lines, there is a deeper message perhaps, but I didn’t really look at that part. Simple language and simple plot, with interesting and likeable characters. If I feel something was too cliché, it’s the career focused husband. It’s something very usual these days in marriage story. I couldn’t find many proofreading errors in it, but being part of a botanical institute, the botanical name of Jasmine (yellow jasmine to be precise) stood out. Firstly, the son tells it wrong and then Natasha also seems to get it wrong. It’s something that could be brushed off as dialogue, but still, thought I’d mention that. Thankful that it has a happy ending.

Overall, this is a light but pleasing read. Can be re-read but not immediately after the first read perhaps. Easy on the pocket, and worth spending that much!

Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book details:
Title: Untruly Yours
Author: Smita Shetty
ISBN: 978-93-81836-29-3
Publishers: Leadstart
Genre: Chicklit, Romance
Price: INR. 125


This is an author-requested review, given for a review copy of the book but no other payment.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills and 3) Debut Indian Authors Month at Tales Pensieve.

(May 2nd, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Dozakhnama by Rabisankar Bal, translated by Arunava Sinha

About the author:
Rabisankar Bal is a Bangla poet, short story writer and novelist. He has been writing for over thirty years and is a journalist by profession. He passionately follows literature, music, painting and world cinema, and has started writing his next novel.

About the translator:
Arunava Sinha translates contemporary and classic Bengali fiction into English. This book is his seventeenth published translation.

From the back-cover:
Exhumed from dust, Manto’s unpublished novel surfaces in Lucknow… is it real or is it fake? In this dastan, Ghalib and Manto converse, entwining their lives in shared dreams. The result is an intellectual journey that takes us into the people and events that shape us as a culture.

My thoughts on the book:
I don’t know what got me attracted to this book. Perhaps it was the praise I heard from one of my friends, who said in her review: “Have you ever been burnt by a book? Been trapped between its pages, gasping for air? Have you felt that if you read any more you’d die; but if you didn’t read, you’d die anyway? If you’ve not had the pleasure of such a pain, read Dozakhnama.” Urmi, I can’t help but agree with that assessment. Maybe even the tagline “Conversations in hell” was also something that piqued my interest, and I took up this book as one of my reads for this year.

This is literary fiction, and a translated one at that. Originally written in Bengali by Rabisankar Bal, and now translated by Arunava Sinha, this book is evocative in its poetry. This book is the conversation between two great poets, Saadat Hassan Manto and Mirza Ghalib and the conversation happens after their death, from their graves, and the story itself is the supposed translation of one of Manto’s unpublished novels.

If you are fond of only stories that move very quickly, or read just for fun, perhaps this book might not be that appealing. If you are willing to let the words seep into you and make you wonder, then this book would do that. When I first got the book, I opened to a random page and found a small verse, that translated to this:

I shall not give up on my desire if it remains unfulfilled
My heart will either reach my lover, or leave my body
When I am dead, dig up my grave, you’ll find my shroud
Covered in smoke, for the fire is still burning inside

That verse pushed me in to the book. For this verse can even be indicative of the passion of a writer as it does to a lover here. As I read on, I found many such verses, couplets and poetry that I could understand as a poet and a writer. Another couplet translates to say:

Like a kite, my heart had once
Yearned to fly to freedom

Oh indeed, it still does. It still does. This book is life and poetry in one single symphony. The lives might be Manto’s and Ghalib’s in the story, but yet there is something I could understand. This shall be one book I treasure and re-read.

Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Dozakhnama
Author: Rabisankar Bal
Translated by: Arunava Sinha
ISBN: 978-8-184-00308-6
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publishers: Vintage Books/Random House India
Price: INR. 399


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws and Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(May 2nd, 2013)