The thing about books is that it can remind you of so many things. One of the things it can remind you of is another book. The genre of spiritual fiction is largely unexplored in Indian writing. One of the exceptions I have seen is Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. In a similar vein, Indian writing has a new author. With this book “I am Life”, she takes her first bow in the literary world, and her name is Shraddha Soni.
The book is the story of Siddharth Khanna – Sid, a businessman from New York who sets out to find God, and that quest leads him to India, the land of 330 million Gods, and incidentally, where he is from. He sets out to find God after a sudden turn of events deprives him of things that mean a lot to him. And when lawyers can’t find him a solution, he comes to a decision under the influence and books a stay at an “ashram”. His search leads him hither and thither. And we are taken along with him through his quest.
The similarities between the start of the quests, one taken by Julian Mantle in TMWSHF and Sid here are very similar. Both have setbacks in their lives, making them seek change. The changes they seek are, however, different. This book is a bit more realistic perhaps, as seen when Sid visits The Happy Yogi ashram. The good thing for us that is he doesn’t stay there throughout the book; the sad thing we see from the visit is that even spirituality is now being commercialized and marketed. We also see that not every “yogi” goes to the ashram for spiritual purposes. If the first ashram was too free and commercialized, the second takes it to the other extreme – spirituality in all its strictness; which doesn’t work out either, no surprise. The failures result in the beginning of Sid’s actual quest to spirituality and finding God. The realization isn’t something new, or superbly profound that’ll leave us wowed. But I think it’s a realization that we kind of overlook or maybe even don’t realize often.
The good thing about the novel is of course in that final realization that Sid has. And that his journey ends well. Shraddha narrates in simple language and that I feel makes the book open to all readers. No dictionary required. The story is realistic, giving us the modern take to spirituality and puts it there as it is without beating around the bush. With a spiritual fiction, I expected magic in the narration. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the book has enough of it to leave me wowed, be it in the narration or in the characters. I wouldn’t however call it a drag. I’d say Sid’s story had the potential to take us on a magical journey, but it didn’t materialize as much as I’d felt it could.
I think every one of us have our preferences in genre. This book would be more interesting to one who likes reading books, fictional or otherwise, on spirituality and self-understanding.
In A Gist:
Positives: Beautiful cover design, realistic plot giving a look at spirituality in modern times, simple narration.
Negatives: Missed the magic I expected in a spiritual journey
About the author:
Shraddha Soni is an Indian author, and author of the book “I am Life”. She is a voracious reader, of people. In the school of life, she has been her own teacher and student. She has turned a lack of reading textbooks into an opportunity to develop her individuality, proving education has little to do with expression and intent can transcend language.
Title: I am Life
Author: Shraddha Soni
Genre: Spiritual Fiction
Publisher: Random House India
Price: INR. 250
(8th March, 2014)