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Book Review: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing… yes, there’s no doubt about it, what intrigued me from the start was the title, and that beautiful cover page. And it helped that my friends were also talking good things about the book.

The story is about Amina, about an Indian family living abroad and their troubles, their present, their past and their future. The story happens between India and abroad, the former being from their past. Events that are set in the mind of the characters, and through the story, set into ours.

The story is about adapting, like how Amina adapts to the photography world, to make her name in that world. It’s about exploring, yet ignoring the past. To understand why the present is shaping up as it is, with her father hallucinating but unwilling to accept it, her mother telling her so, but claiming it is nothing serious etc. Amina has to explore her family’s past, but in doing so, ignore the memories and ghosts that she has in that past, like the criticisms she faced and of course, that one gathering that stands out.

The story is about relationships, be it family, friendships or professional relationships. It is that close-knit group feeling that brings a feeling of home away from home.

The story is about choices. It’s something that binds us to our lives, and the characters to theirs. Sometimes, I wonder why I chose to read the novel, but it doesn’t pull me away from the book.

The story is about emotions. It’s about the trauma that the characters go through, each having their own to share with the reader. And the way the story is narrated, the reader feels those emotions too.

For a debut novel, I find Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing to be excellent. Interweaving time frames is no easy task for a writer and Mira Jacob does that well. Maybe it is the genre, but the pace is not even. Sometimes the pages turn, keeping me engaged and wanting to know what’s next; and it is so slow at other times that I want to skip a few pages and see if it picks up. It’s a book that will stay on my shelf for a while to come, and I might, I just might read it again soon, emotional as it may be.

Not perfection, this book, but it comes pretty darn close to it.

The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
Book Details
Title: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
Author(s): Mira Jacob Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9789384052706 Publisher: Bloomsbury India
No. of Pages: 502 Price: Rs. 599

Reviewed for Bloomsbury India, who gave me a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.

(© 28th February 2015)



Poetry and writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacob

  1. I was waiting to see a frank review of this book, and I am glad to read this. Tnq Vinay. I had read an extract one the author’s or book seller’s pages, and was impressed but I did have a doubt if it would be Diaspora stuff again. I have put this on my list now.

    1. I liked it, Suneetha, but I don’t know if everyone will 🙂 It’s not just about Indians away from India, if that’s what you meant by diaspora. But I won’t deny that that might play a part in the book. 🙂

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