book review, Uncategorized

Book Review : Confessions On An Island

I wish to write down a review for every book I read, but the reality is far from that. I was a on a reading hiatus till last week and a gentle nudge from unknown quarters pushed me one day to resume my reading habit. I started with the Booker Prize Shortlisted masterpiece by  Ottessa Moshfegh, ‘Eileen’. The book came up on my Amazon recommendations and let me not deny the fact that I am quickly drawn to books that have something to do with Booker Prize. Thus I started reading the book and would rate it a 5/5. Any reader who loves literary fiction wouldn’t want to miss that book, trust me.

The second book I read this week was ‘CONFESSIONS ON AN ISLAND’ by Ayan Pal.  I wonder whether this book received the accolades and attention it deserve or I am ignorant of the same. Either way, I regret the fact that I was late in giving the book a try even though it had been idling away on my Kindle list for a while now. I thought I would write a review of this one and so here it goes. 

The Blurb:

An abducted woman trapped on an island is given a chance to escape, provided she tells stories emerging from the stories her intriguing abductor tells her. Clueless about why she is being forced to participate in this game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the woman, a bestselling author, decides to play along. And therein begins a thrilling tale narrated by an island. Of a man and woman consumed by the power of their imagination and truth, even as the stakes are gradually raised. Soon the only way out is in – into the past, heart and mind. The island is ready to confess. Are you ready for the truth?

My Review:

‘Confessions on a Island’ is in a few words a remarkable read. The concept is novel, the execution is almost flawless. I could barely point out any holes in the plot and for such factors the book turned out to be a few hours of time spent in the company of a satisfying, enthralling book.

Each chapter could be visualised as separate stories woven with brilliant craft and intuition, such that the culmination is cleverly revealed to us in the end at which we exclaim in awe. Certain scenes were powerful enough to instill shock in me and those are the scenes too which linger deep in my mind. This points to the strength of the author’s artful voice and how he was successful in putting across on a platter the raw realities of human life. But there might be readers who would cringe at the same, which I consider the only drawback of the story.  

The opening scene itself offers the reader a glimpse into the enviable mode by which the author has sculptured the story, with seamless, fluent prose and good vocabulary. The author has taken arduous efforts in detailing the nuances, bringing out the subtle beauty of story telling in more places than one. The book is racy, intriguing and absolutely catchy. I would recommend this book to any lover of books, although the theme being mature, it might not be appropriate for children to read.

This book deserves to be read by more bibliophiles out there, who ought to be spreading word about it too in the process. To lend my awfully small effort on similar lines, I have written this review in the utmost honest manner possible. Read the book and you will agree with me. 

Buy the book here – Amazon

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This book was purchased by me and the opinions raised in this review are unbiased and are entirely mine.

Bits From Life, Uncategorized

Hey Hello! – Bits From Life

 

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I have been missing from this space for sometime now. It took a short and concerned message from Maniparna at Scattered Thoughts to provide me that firm, definite nudge to return to my blog. I usually end up writing long posts. But this time, I have decided to keep it short. The reasons are many – lack of time being the one that should matter the least. I have plenty of time today to sit down and conjure that perfect blog post. But when the fact remains that I have been avoiding this place, I thought I will mark the much needed come back in a precise manner.

I have had a mixed February. There was one exam, more like a class test, which was due in February last week, for which I have been preparing for around two weeks. I can’t believe I would still make a big deal out of class tests at this age when I am far from being 15 or 20. I love studying when someone puts forward a challenge and whether I am utilising the time for studies or not, my mind would be steered clear of almost anything else during the period. Hence blogging too took a back seat and that affected the flow which I had been carefully maintaining for sometime. 

There are few things I need to tell you with this blog post. One is that I am fighting my anxieties appreciably well these days. I still fret, but I have managed to do productive things too amidst that, which is how I gauge the aberration these days. I am a terribly impatient person by nature and now I have started focussing more on this facet which is something that need to be put to reigns at the earliest because it has started taking a toll on me. Any extra load of work more than what I have anticipated, turns me all grumpy and irked, which inturn affects the quality of my work and taps awake the redundant anxiety otherwise diligently put to sleep. I remember one of my teachers stating during one of those invocations meetings at the start of my house surgeoncy that “no amount of work done would be useless. You will learn something or the other from the extra hour you put into your job.” I have been trying to make myself believe this since then and I find that even though I suceed sometimes, I end failing miserably at other times too. It is natural, I know, but it is time I made a pact with my impatient self.

I discovered recently that such extended moments could even make for great stories – both for my creative self and for my personal being, where I could strike good conversations with my colleagues because of the incident which caught me off guard stealing a few hours from my otherwise well planned life. It would feel irritating in the beginning, but the effort nevertheless would leave you fulfilled and happy in the end. 

‘To engage’ was my word of the year, on which I am working tirelessly. I am adding a few resolutions to this year starting from March. Let these be termed ‘Quarter year Resolutions’, something which simply cannot wait for the year end to be resolved. 

  1. To drink more water
  2. To excercise more
  3. To be more patient
  4. To make each day count
  5. To not be terrified of taking chances
  6. To wake up before 7a.m everyday
  7. To try to begin the day with a smile, no matter what.

So how has been your life all these days? Any new stories to share? Have you added more resolutions to your list too?

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Author Talk, Uncategorized

Author Talk – Radhika Tabrez

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There is a confession to make before I present to you this week’s ‘Author Talk’ column. I don’t know how many of you noticed, but I missed this session last week. The reasons are many – when I visiting my parents after long, couple with one best friend visiting me, the weekend is surely guaranteed to be hectic, isn’t it? I deliberately let the session be missed, for life is not all about the presence one is bound to make on the social media, if at all it is of any gauge of the way life is to be lived anytime. Hence, with no tinge of guilt, I decided to let my hair down, be freed from all shackles and enjoy the days to the fullest with my friends and family. I am happy if you did notice my absence, but otherwise also, it is fine. I uphold the habit of disappearing from this space far too many times over a period of few months. 

Moving on to this week’s ‘Author Talk’ column, we have an extremely well-versed and iconic writer, who took the literary arena by storm with her debut novel, which deservingly won her the ‘Muse India- Satish Verma young writer award’ for the year 2016. She has been part of numerous short story anthologies and has proven her craft and talent through multifarious channels. I am talking about Author Radhika Maira Tabrez, the author of ‘In the light of Darkness’ published by Readomania in 2016. 

After having read her book, I realised that her characters failed to leave me for a few days. They lingered like the after taste of a delicacy, which keeps reminding you of that first bite of it you took, with each smack of your lips. Hence I decided to put forward a few questions to her, out of which, incidentally, she happened to answer the very question, to hear the answer of which I was hoping for the most. Read on to know more : 

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An article revolving around the characters in the book.

By Radhika Tabrez

As a debut novelist, a question I get asked often, at various events is – how autobiographical is your book? Considering that ‘In The Light Of Darkness’ (ITLOD) is predominantly a story of a mother and son; and usually while someone in the audience is asking me that question, they can see my four year old son raising a tornado nearby – it seems like a pretty obvious question. The fact is that the story is not autobiographical. But that brings us to the next question. Are any of the characters in the story inspired by people in real life? And the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes. Even if as a writer, I had been consciously unaware of the fact sometimes. Let me elaborate.

A lot of the characters in ITLOD mirror people I know in real life. Some were by design, but quite a few dawned on me as a revelation as I read the first finished draft with an editor’s eye. In fact, the biggest one was broken to me by a beta reader; I didn’t quite figure it myself!

Susan Pereira – It warms my heart to know how much people have loved Susan’s character. Because the truth is, she was the most hypothetical character in the story. I have seen parents who are devoted to their child the way she is, but I don’t think I have come across anyone yet who is able to withstand pain and rejection from their child with as much dignity and understanding as she does. Susan was, according to me, the epitome of love and forgiveness. A kind of parent, I wish I can be to my son.

Matthew Pereira  – Now this was a shocker! I wrote Matthew the way the story demanded him to be. And it was much later and that too through a beta reader’s eyes, that I could see how much he was modeled on my husband. Matthew is as sincere in his compunction and his atonement as my husband can be, once he realizes he has done something wrong. Of course, just like Matthew it is very difficult to convince my husband that he is wrong, in the first place; but I guess that holds true for all husbands! 🙂

Meera Vashisht  – Meera was initially written as a hypothetical character with a fictional back story. But while editing the first finished draft, and seeing the story from an objective distance, I realized that Meera did have some shades of me. I too, like Meera, can confuse self-preservation with self-destruction. I have sometimes in life shown a tendency to be closed to ‘anything new and good’ because of my experiences with the ‘bad’. I take a long time to forgive myself, just like Meera does. In that sense we’re both too harsh on ourselves. But thankfully, just like Meera I too am surrounded with people who help me by constantly keep correcting that disposition of mine.   

Deena/Suhana/Maanav/Vidushi – These, perhaps, are the characters closest to the people in my life. The whole phrase ‘A family of friends’ which finds a mention in the book holds true for our life. Both me and my husband are surrounded with friends, who have often proved to be a steady anchor for us; even more than our families. Hence writing these characters was almost like offering a ‘thanks’ to them. And readers have loved all these characters.

Col. Rakesh Bindra – Another character like the ‘friends’ mentioned above, whom I replicated from real life. He is modeled on a senior colleague of my husband’s. But over the years he has come to be a life-guide and a mentor to the two of us. I don’t know anyone more grounded in reality and yet optimistic, spiritual and yet pragmatic, kind and yet incisive in showing you your follies.  I was so much influenced with his personality that I chose to even keep his first name as the name of the character. And it dawned on me only just now, while writing this piece, that I may never have explicitly told him this yet. He has read the book though, so I wonder if he figured it out!

To sum up, I’d like to say, as a novelist, especially as a debut novelist, it is a huge comfort to write the characters that you know so well in real life. It lends great strength and veracity to your narrative. Of course, an important precondition is that they should organically fit into and be able to flow and morph according to the story.

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The Blurb of ‘In the light of Darkness’:

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Twenty years ago, Susan Pereira had to send her only child Matthew, to a faraway boarding school. That one decision brought their relationship to a cul de sac, which she still hasn’t been able to break out of. Matthew is too distant and too angry to relent. Meera Vashisht’s misguided love left her bruised, shattered and abandoned, only to be found and healed by Susan. Set on a fictional Indian island paradise called Bydore, In The Light of Darkness is a journey of broken souls looking for closures and new beginnings. Does Susan manage to win back her son? Does Matthew find the future his mother hoped he would? Does Meera finally get away from her past?

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Buy the book here : Amazon

Know more about the writer here : Facebook Page

Know more about her books here : Goodreads page

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Bits From Life, Uncategorized

What if? #Bits From Life

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Image Source – here

I never thought I would write on my blog today. I never write on Mondays, mostly because I would already have filled this space on a Sunday, with the Author Talk featuring on my blog on weekends. I am breaking the rule here, for I feel a pressing need to speak my heart out today.

I stay in a hostel, which is a good ten minutes away from the hospital where I am currently pursuing my higher studies. This hospital is at least ten hours away from my home and hence visiting my parents at home has been reduced to a once monthly affair. It so happens that most of the times, when the week arrives when I would be undertaking the journey to my house, something or the other goes wrong, or my days would be stuffed with  chores, leaving me overwhelmed.

This week, I am going home for a purpose and it has to do with the Government job from where I took leave for two years for my course. I have to apply for a particular post, which requires me to be personally available with the properly filled form. The form needs to be signed by the superintendent of the previous institution from where I too leave, which further needs to be countersigned by a higher authority. I am taking leave for one day, as the number of leaves we are entitled to for a year is twenty. The hospital where I need to approach for the procedure is two hours from my house.

When I called up the superior officer asking whether he would be free on Saturday, for I was hoping to complete the procedures then, he told me that he would be free, but emergencies could come up any minute in the form of meetings or so. I was flustered. I am not in a position to take a chance. I need to complete the procedures in a day and I need to return to my hospital for my residency on Sunday itself. It would be highly tedious and depressing a task to return without bringing my goal to fruition. That would force me to take a second trip for the same purpose in another week’s time. Also, the deadline for the procedure is fast approaching and if I am not able to finish it before that, that would mean a terrible loss for me with regard to my professional life.

I talked to my parents and a friend of mine about the matter and they tried to pacify me. I started having a bout of migraine, which further brought down my already distraught self. At the pinnacle of misery, when I thought I wouldn’t be able to take it anymore, the unexpected happened. The vacuum that has been sucking me in for so long was suddenly filled by the warmth of peace. A barrage of questions overpowered me.

What if the suptd is not there when you reach? What if you have to return leaving the job half done? What is the most that could happen? Is the matter really in your hands? Could you control what is about to happen?

Finding an answer to the queries is not easy. But I did come up with an absolute solution to all these questions in that moment of epiphany.

No, the matter is not in my hands. I cannot control what is about to happen in this particular situation. So, what could I do?

Well, I could hunt the suptd down at the place where he is partaking the meeting and make him sign the form! It is definitely not impossible, is it? He is an amiable human being and he would understand the sitation and would take it in the right spirit.

What if that doesn’t happen? Could I do anything about it?

No. I will have to come back another day to finish the procedures.

What if I had to?

It was a necessity and I was pushed into the quagmire against my will. It was a snap of fate and I had to move along with it, given that it was impossible to resolve the problem otherwise. Yes, I will make a second trip if need arises; I made up my mind. There, basked in the rays of serenity, I could come up with answers to the confusing riddle I was in.

The incident made me recollect the many moments in my life when I would be bogged down by the silliest of matters. If the problem at hand needs a surgical intervention, then it needs to be undertaken at any cost. One cannot be cosy and revelling in one’s comfort zone at all times. There would come a time when one is forced to face the harsh circumstances of life.

Sometimes, fretting over not being able to come up with a safe solution is not the right way to tackle life, but owning the courage to drag oneself through the gritty experience is.

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Author Talk, Uncategorized

Author Talk- Namrata Madhira

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Hello, friends. How have your week been? I have had a congested week. As I mentioned on the social media platforms, my debut work of fiction is about to be released by the publishing house ‘Story Mirror’ this year. The editing works are almost completed. I am, right now, working on the blurb of my book, which is a difficult and time consuming task in itself.

Amidst all the chaos, I am here with yet another edition of ‘Author Talk’. Today, we have Namrata Madhira, AKA Privy Trifles, sharing with us a Guest Post on ‘Lessons In Writing’. Namrata is a versatile blogger and a prolific writer. I started knwoing her through her blog, Privy Trifles and it didn’t take me long to be her frequent visitor. Her words are captivating and her prose lucid.  She is a contributor to many an anthology too. She also has two short stories collection in her repertoire – Metro Diaries and Metro Diaries -2. Without wasting any more time, I am handing over the baton to Namrata, whose article is sure to leave you enlightened. 

 

                            LESSONS IN WRITING

NAMRATA MADHIRA

In the last six years that I have been writing regularly there are lots of instances when I either am given advice on writing or asked for it. I prefer the former than the latter because I think I am still a learner who shouldn’t be giving advices. Out of all the advices I have received till date I would like to share with you two advices, one which according to me is the best advice I have ever got and the other, the worst.

A post outlining all the advices received would have been quite an interesting read but here I want to provide you a balanced view about writing and in the process attempt to clear any myths or misconceptions you might have harbored in your heart. I am also going to explain the why behind it, not because I need to justify my stance but to show that what is worst for me could actually be best for you; simply because our answers for the master question “What does writing mean to you” differ.

: Best advice:

Write not because you can, but because you need to and there is no other way you can bring solace to your heart.

I was fortunate to have attended a workshop with a Booker Prize nominee who had a lot of advices for all budding writers. One of the most important things he said was the above lines.  According to him, being able to bring out our inner most thoughts on paper in words is something that makes us special. There are many who don’t know this art (Ref: Illiterate i.e. people who cannot read or write) and are missing out on the magic of words.

Write daily because that is the voice of your soul. Don’t force yourself to write in a particular fashion just to become popular. Remember one of the best authors we look up to today used to invent new words in English while writing. Experience the joy of creation rather than pushing yourself to replicate a masterstroke by someone else.

: Worst advice:

Never be emotionally attached to your writing.

This advice was given to me by a fellow author in a creative writing workshop who also happens to be a published writer and someone whose writing is too good.  During the workshop we were supposed to critic each other’s works and somehow she felt I had taken the feedback too personally. She advised me to detach myself from my writing because that is when I will be able to focus on it better.

With due respect to her I strongly disagree with this advice. I thought about it a lot with the intention of implementing it. But after a lot of rumination I concluded that if I detach myself from my writing I won’t be able to improve it at all. For me writing is my creation, a part of me in the form of words. Just like a mother feels bad when someone pinpoints her child’s negatives I also do feel bad. But then a mother also knows how to not spoil her child and ensure those negatives are worked upon before they turn into vices. If she is not attached to her child she won’t be able to do this.

I have always said I am my worst critic and I am never satisfied with my own work which of course is very good sign. At the same time I am attached to my pieces but not to an extent that I feel they are flawless. I am attached to an extent that I can see all the flaws and still believe in their potential, and hence keep reworking on them.

Though I am sure there are many who would agree with this advice because detachment brings in a sense of freedom to move on albeit a bit more easily than before! To each his own I believe.  If there is one advice which I would like to share with others it will always be this “Never let someone else define writing for you. Neither is any definition wrong nor is any right. Choose what it means to you and keep following that till you see it manifest into reality.”

By now I am sure you would have deduced that there is not good or bad advice. It is just what it is, an advice. You are free to inculcate it in your work or completely ignore it because like it is said “There are three rules for writing and no one knows what they are!”

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THE BLURB OF THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK – METRO DIARIES-2: 

Give life another chance. Laugh a little longer. let go of your past. Hold onto what you love. In short LIVE rather than just exist!

Some told, some untold, some heard and some unheard – this collection of stories will make you look at life in a different light and make you ponder over its definition of it till now.

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Buy the book here – Amazon

Know more about the author here – Facebook Page

Read the author’s blog – Here

Know more about the author’s books here – Goodreads Page

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Before you leave, please drop any queries that you might want to be answered by the author. If not, do leave your opinions on the guest post or the column. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

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