Cut-like Wound

17 05 2013


Cut-like Wound by Anita Nair is a psychological crime thriller. Even though I absolutely loved her Ladies Coupe and Mistress, I was skeptical about this book as this genre is a deviation from her usual stuff. Having no prior experience with desi-crime thrillers also contributed to my apprehension. But I was to have a pleasant surprise. The book is an absolute page-turner. The story is well-crafted and narrated beautifully. She set her story in and around the world of transgenders, which presented a very refreshing and new backdrop. It actually adds to the appeal of the book.

Her portrayal of Gowda as an intelligent, middle-aged, not-so-successful in his career Inspector makes him not too intimidating and the readers won’t feel compelled to be in awe of him right away.

Color enters his drab life in the form of Urmila, his college-love.  Gowda gets carried away but not without initial resistance. If Anita comes up with more crime thrillers featuring Inspector Gowda, I’ll watch out for what happens to his affair with Urmila. 🙂 My guess is that the family man in Gowda will take over sooner or later and put an end to it. Because I believe that all affairs come to an end. An “affair” is temporary by definition. 😛

The way she unveils the psyche of the criminal and explores its dark corners is commendable. This book is going to be made into movie soon and I’m curious to see how it turns out. It is easy to maintain suspense about the identity of the criminal with the readers, because they have only the author’s description to go by. I wonder how the filmmakers will manage to keep the viewers in the dark.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge

Nijaniki Feminijaniki Madhya

25 04 2013

Nidadhavolu Malathi

This collection of 45 stories by Nidadhavolu Malathi was a random pick from the library. I never heard about either the book or the author before and hence started reading it with certain skepticism. Soon, I got absorbed into the varied themes the stories touched upon and realized that I like the collection. The author dealt with subtle emotions and portrayed the prevalent societal norms and values in the most non-dramatic manner. Some of them depicted NRI lives in USA. This is the first time I encountered that theme in Telugu literature and I found it refreshing.

Also, one important thing that struck me as I read through the stories was that the protagonists were not idealistic; they were normal with their own shortcomings and insecurities. They didn’t do great things and didn’t often solve their own problems. I felt that the author didn’t try to convey any message or tried to solve the characters’ issues, which makes these stories an artistic record of the author’s astute and fine observations of human behavior. Essentially this characteristic leaves a lot for the readers to think about and reflect on.

Barring a few stories, which didn’t appeal to me, the collection makes a decent read.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge

Manasuko Daaham

20 04 2013

Manasuko Daaham

This is a collection of stories by Kuppili Padma. I’ve read her before and so knew what to expect and I was not disappointed. Her stories always feature a strong, independent woman who lives and leads her life on her own terms not bowing down to the oppressing, discriminating, and hypocritical society. She  –  the protagonist – thinks clearly, is sure of herself, seeks love, and exhibits high individuality. And she embraces the consequences, displaying commendable courage. She holds respect for people with similar traits. Most of the stories in this collection deal about and question the ingrained beliefs and norms of the patriarchial society. The stories tug at your heart and it’s very difficult to pick up a favorite from the collection.

PS: Part of South Asian Women Writers Challenge

Reading challenge

19 04 2013

I recently signed up for South Asian Women Writers Challenge. It involves reading books by Asian women writers and reviewing them. The aim is to increase exposure and support for the aforementioned category of writers. I ambitiously targeted 8 books in 2013. Given the fact that I read a minimum of 50 books every year, I believe I can do this pretty easily. Signing up was done in a jiff with much enthusiasm. Next came the more time-consuming task of choosing the writers/books. This posed a little problem. 😐 As I went through the list here, I realized that I never read many of them and that there were only a small number of well-known names among them. As a cautious reader, my first thought had been to go for only those writers whom I have either read before or heard/read about. Another self-imposed rule is to minimize the expenses (borrow rather than buy concept 🙂 ) as much as possible. As a result, the tentative list came down to:

  1. Anita Nair (Cut Like Wound – a crime thriller; already on my bookshelf)
  2. Kuppili Padma (Telugu – Manasuko Daaham – short stories; borrowed)
  3. Nidadhavolu Malathi (Telugu – Nijaniki Feminijaniki Madhya – short stories; borrowed (random pick))
  4. Amulya Malladi
  5. Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee
  6. Anita Desai
  7. Bapsi Sidhwa (famous Pakistani author)
  8. Lakshmi Narayan (Bonsai Kitten)

I’ve read four of the authors earlier (1,2,4,5) and loved their work.

However, ideally, I would like to cover the writers from all the South Asian countries. I am aware of two popular authors from Bangladesh – Taslima Nasreen and Monica Ali – but unfortunately, my prior experience with their writings left me not wanting anything more from them. (Of course, I’m willing to reconsider in case of any compelling positive recommendations.) Also, I’m clueless about authors from other South Asian countries. Recommendations in this regard are most welcome!