Quite a few articles in the newspaper these days focuses on crimes against women, and it has been more in focus since the last few years, I think. Yet, on the other hand, there remains some silence too. I don’t know what it was that prompted me to take this book for reading; maybe it was the blurb that said “A daughter and a mother. This is the story of a life. You choose to live or die.”
Each genre has its own particular characteristics, I feel. A fantasy works best when magic is at the forefront and a mystery when it makes the reader interested to solve the crime along with the tale. The genre of horror works best when the words make the reader imagine the scene, rather than saying it directly. It is this that I look for when I take a horror genre book to read.
Believe brings a simple story set in the fictional town of Levion. Conner White, an author, heads there after being criticized about his work. He finds that the town has its own secrets and it’s not that easy finding peace there. Rather, he finds himself trying not only to save himself, but the town and Victoria, who he meets there.
Varun Gwalani’s debut work is laudable in two aspects. First, he’s chosen not to do a love story debut, which is the common route authors seem to take these days. Secondly, he’s chosen to set it in a fictional town, though the aspects he explores through the novel are quite real, and in my opinion, local. That he chooses to develop the character of Conner White slowly and makes it interesting is another positive aspect as well. Introspective and dark, yet engaging, the novel holds promise.
Perhaps it’s the fact that there are local elements involved which makes this book a little confusing as well. Though the characters are fictional, they seem to be in the wrong setting. Being a debut work, it lacks the completeness be it in narration or the plot. But I feel his next book will set that right.
Nothing too good, nothing too shabby, Believe is a decent first novel from a young author.
|Author(s): Varun Gwalani||Genre: Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789382473817||Publisher: Frog Books|
|No. of Pages: 298||Price: INR. 195|
(© 25th April 2015)
Would you connect in the same way with a person if you were meeting them after many years? Or what is that which connects you to that special someone in your life? Is it love, or is it lust or a bit of both? Shan Fazelbhoy’s collection of stories, “On the Rocks”, explores these “connects” of life that are having difficulties.
I would pick out the first story, Divine Justice, as a standout. I feel so for the reason that it suited the title, it developed the story and told about what got the protagonist Maya to the place where the story has been set, and then delivered a fine punch with the ending. It made me smile. I understood it one way, and then realized later how the title fit in.
The story The Lilac Jacket too impresses me as it shows with the “connect”, the difference between love and lust. Though I felt that Rakesh didn’t deserve that chance, the ending also made me hope for a happy ending for them in the future. It also made me wonder if there are Sumans in many such stories in life too, to become an obstacle for love.
The title story On the Rocks didn’t feel as strong as the first one, but it was lusty and descriptive. Through the read, I was wondering if the two would have their happy ending after many years of waiting, though the mention of Mitali kind of gave away how the story would end.
Not every story though is heavy. With the story Cinderella, the author brought to the collection a bit of humor. I wondered what the “connect” was, but it flashed in after a while, and made me smile. It was good to have a light story to ease what is otherwise a collection heavy with emotions of love, lust and disappointment.
I love the narration style of the author, and the stories are edited well. They kept me engaged and it was a quick read too. What I would have liked is a better cover design. The cover is what catches the eye first with any book, and this one didn’t have a spark I feel.
Definitely not a one-time read, but I’d say some gap between reads would be good. I enjoyed reading it.
|Title: On The Rocks: Stories of Connections|
|Author(s): Shan Fazebhoy||Genre: Short Stories|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789352013029||Publisher: Frog Books|
|No. of Pages: 102||Price: 125|
(© 17th April 2015)
Emotions are some of the most important facets of life. They come from within us, and help us to express both with words, and without. For me, as a poet, it’s easier to express in poetry.
I’ve read a book that was completely in the form of letters from one person to the other. In Beneath the Surface, Sherry Duggal brings a story that’s almost completely in the form of poems.
The book explores the life of the protagonist as she goes through different dark phases one after the other and finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Such a life is difficult, but the solution that the author seems to suggest – “creativity” – is one that I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s something that I can understand easily.
The flipside to the book is, expectedly, that the depth the author portrays in prosaic poetry is not always understandable. It’s because poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea. It makes the book feel heavy, and kind of difficult to engage.
The cover design and the concept of the book are two things I applaud about this book. But it’s at most a one-time read, and a heavy one at that.
|Title: Beneath the Surface|
|Author(s): Sherry Duggal||Genre: Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789384226428||Publisher: Frog Books / Leadstart|
|No. of Pages: 100||Price: Rs. 125|
(© 2nd April 2015)
It’s quite nice to see short story anthologies getting the spotlight nowadays. It brings new authors to the forefront of the publishing industry, and brings some fresh stories too. Even short stories by a single author seem to be coming into prominence. I am happy that this book, “The Forbidden One, by Zaarra Khader”, made its way into my collection.
My favorite story in the book is “Om Namah Shivaye”. It’s about a young devotee and her favorite god, Lord Shiva. I like this story a lot because of the child, and her love for Lord Shiva, the way she expresses it and how the people around her know that love and affectionately nickname her for it. But it’s not just that. It’s also about her mother’s love for her which is so well expressed towards the end of the story.
Another one that appealed to me was the first story, “Love is not All Black or White”. I liked it not just for the simple love story that it was, but that it felt realistic. It showed how the worst situation brings out the worst in us sometimes, but the worst can be solved by being better. Interesting, how this story ended, but I’m glad it ended that way when another seemed more likely.
The book of short stories begins with a bang, but don’t know why, the stories become less interesting to me after that. It becomes expected. Stories like “Coffee and Cake” were nicely written, but I could know where it was headed. That doused some of the interest for me. Another thing I would suggest to the author is to have a glossary at the end, if needed, to explain the Hindi terms. Having it immediately in the sentence with brackets didn’t work for me. Also, if the book is going for a second edition, I’d suggest a different cover. I didn’t find it that appealing.
What helps the book is that the stories are different and have a message to say, but it is brought down by some things like pace and editing in some places.
|Title: The Forbidden One|
|Author(s): Zaarra Khader||Genre: Short Stories|
|ISBN/ASIN: B00ROTQMD4||Publisher: Frog Books / Leadstart|
|No. of Pages: 188||Price: Rs. 105|
(© 31st March 2015)