07 August 2014

books by authors of colour

so, my journey along the path of books-by-authors-of-colour is now three book old. the first was anita nair’s ‘lessons in forgetting’, totally wonderful. i had read her ‘ladies coupe’ a long long time ago, and although it impressed me, i totally forgot about nair. she is good. she writes well, her characters are real people you can identify with, and she combines that indian localness with global taste and experience very well. her india is not crass as that of chetan bahgat, and that is a relief! i am left wondering why she is not more well known.. will have to do some research into that. 

anyways, ‘lessons in forgetting’ was haunting. the plot and the characters are wonderful, and as you turn the last page, you are rooting for smriti, for jak, for meera. there is apparently a movie made out of the novel as well.. am not sure how i feel about that right now.. 

the second book was nadeem aslam’s ‘the wasted vigil’, and while i am tempted to say that reading the novel was also a ‘wasted vigil’, that would not be totally accurate.. the book has many redeeming factors, such as some of its prose, descriptions and some of its characters, such as marcus and dunia. one thing that really interested me was the perspective of those indoctrinated by ‘jihadis’; i would have enjoyed more conversations between casa and dunia, and seeing casa’s rigidly held beliefs crumble slowwwwly, as crumble they must, totally lacking in depth.. the end was hardly unexpected. my main problem with the novel was its slow pace.. and perhaps its cyclical nature. i want a story that goes from a to b, with characters that develop accordingly. i would not recommend this book, but i think i will try one other novel by aslam before deciding whether he is my cup of coffee or not.. 

i tried helen oyeyemi’s ‘the opposite house’, but really could not get into it. the symbolism is beyond me. i like her writing, but have no idea what she is writing about. that was a disappointment. 

to indulge my african craving, i am currently reading ‘we need new names’ by noviolet bulawayo, and it’s great. written in the voice of a child, food, parental/adult behaviour and childhood friendships and games are featured prominently, with little mention of politics or socio-economic factors. it is refreshing to understand a country, a time, and its people through these benchmarks (the games played by children are uncannily representative of the society they live in: ‘find bin laden’, ‘country-game’). bulawayo’s writing is striking and beautiful, and totally makes the zimbabwean/african experience come alive. 

my next read will be korean, which i am also eagerly looking forward to :) 

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