I’m definitely not finishing my reading challenge for 2018. Which is kind of a pity because I pledged to read 40 books by the end of the year, and I came so close for a change. I had such a good run, with a super good ratio of fun, enjoyable books too. But for various reasons I’m not going to make it to the “finish” and I’m trying not to psych myself into finishing it somehow, as I am known to otherwise. Anyhow. Here’s what I read last.
Gachar Gochar, Vivek Shanbhag (Translated from Kannada by Srinath Perur)
I gobbled this book in under 24 hours on my weekend away in Auroville with A.
It is such a good book — one of the best I’ve read this year. And it’s probably a sign of the banging translation job on this one that it made me wish I could read the original in Kannada. Just so I can get a deeper sense of the regional, colloquial nuances. This is a story of a middle-class family reeling in the aftereffects of sudden monetary success in newly liberalised India. Set in an old Bangalore that many of us have known some elements of, this was all kinds of heartwarming, nostalgic and riveting. If you have a penchant for Indian writing this is a must-read.
Normal People, Sally Rooney
I loved Rooney’s other book — Conversations with Friends — so much that when I heard she has a new book out I got my hands on it immediately. I also read this one in about a day in Auroville (yeah we did not much else than eat and read that weekend – blissful!). This is a book that talks about regular things — youth, love, relationships, passion — but twists it all up in knots, telling a story that can be easily passed off as simple and frivolous, when actually its a subtly political and deeply tender and moving. I enjoyed Normal People almost as much as I did Conversations with Friends, and for the same reasons. The writer in me has huge respect for this artful skill of telling simple stories that cut so deep in the most casual, matter of fact style.
Sultana’s Dream, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
I picked this amazing book up in the bookshop at the visitor’s centre at Auroville, on A’s recommendation. It’s a short, quick read — a very old story, in fact — about a woman’s reverie into a veritable feminist dreamland, incredibly well illustrated by Durga Bai, a tribal artist. It was only after I finished the book that I realised the book I’d bought was merely a modern edition of an old classic. That’s how timeless and relevant this story is. It’s a great
60 Indian Poets, Jeet Thayil
I’ve never been big on poetry. I have always felt studying it (and my staunch efforts not to) in high-school and college killed it for me. But I’ve been drawn to poetry this year. A gifted this Tishani Doshi collection to me earlier this year, and then recommended this one as a good place to begin exploring Indian poetry and I cannot agree more. It’s an excellent (and large, formidable) selection, for one. But more than that it is interspersed with little pieces of text — anecdotes, interesting information about the poet, detailed bios — all across to really beef up the poem and give context. This is a keeper of a book, and one that I will keep going back to. I’ve already gifted it to three other people. It’s just that kind of book.
Two years ago: Day 363: Rewind