Literary Review – The Legend of Genghis Khan

The Legend of Genghis Khan

 

The world has been enthralled, saddened and angered by many people, of varying professions and nationalities. But there are people who have had the courage, conviction and the persona to make the world go on its knees, to cower down before them and to quiver with fear at their names. A handful of people, not more! One such towering personality is Genghis Khan, a name that resonates with power and brings about horses, arrows and brutality to one’s minds. A name synonymous with absolute power!

When history is being read by us or studied by us, we rarely tend to observe the details, especially when the mentioned part is something that we’ve read often. It becomes news to us. Sutapa Basu, in collaboration with Readomania has taken pains to bring alive before us in The Legend of Genghis Khan, the details we missed while studying the history of the world, especially about a part of the world far from our motherland.

The novel starts with a brutal raid by the army of Genghis Khan on a settlement. As expected, the raid is swift, merciless, mindlessly cruel, ferocious and partly successful. The Khan himself is not part of the raid. But what he gains from the raid is something he never bargained for!

The novel moves ahead in two time frames, giving the readers a clear picture of the legend that the Khan had carved for himself from being the fledgling that he was. The author’s efforts in doing her research for the novel is evident from the names of places, their descriptions, the culture of the Mongols, the names of various weapons used for siege warfare, the Mongolian way of addressing people and so on.

What strikes the readers in its peculiarity is the other side of Genghis Khan, the Mongolian leader. Only the most studious historian would know that, the Khan, though illiterate, encouraged his subjects to learn Writing. Important events were recorded for posterity. Shigi, the adopted brother of Genghis Khan comes about as a fearsome warrior, giant in stature, but also surprisingly genial and literate. His war scarred hands pursue writing the achievements of Genghis Khan in their free time. The Khan offered equality to women; something that was unheard or even thought of in those times. And to see that emerging from the barbaric mind of the Mongol was a shock to the entire population of the earth that heard of or knew him. Another seemingly impossible trait of him was his tolerance to other religions. This was not deemed possible in his time, but he did it. And it played a big role in strengthening his kingdom. The most important aspect of his quickly strengthened kingdom was the way in which the Khan allowed people to rise to power based on their merit and not their tribe. This enlarged his followers and made them stick with him, no matter what.

Sutapa Basu has cleverly gathered all information and wrought about a novel that whiffs with the scents of Mongolian steppes and freshly groomed horses. She also makes the readers feel the cold wind biting into the characters of the novel and sometimes into themselves. The image of the ger visualized by the readers is a testimony to the descriptive ability of the author. The hunt that Temujin has with his father, the taking of the food from the rival clan, the feeling of abandonment, the cause of having to fend for himself and his family, the feral instinct that needles him to commit an atrocious act within the family and the humble manner in which he accepts the reprimand from his mother are portrayed perfectly by Sutapa Basu. She excels as an author who brings out the inner feelings of the characters and makes the readers feel part of the novel. Relationships are etched in our minds through this Readomanian tale.

Having brought all these qualities of Genghis Khan and his childhood, the author does not fail to talk about the notoriety the Mongol was and is known throughout the world for; his cruelty. The raid on Malikpur is an example. A child is thrown in the air and speared as it comes down, making the mother faint and the readers gasp involuntarily. The sacking of cities is another example, where in a city, getting tired of his soldiers killing civilians one by one, Genghis Khan grabs hold of five prisoners by their hair, swings his sword in a butchering arc and kills all five, eliciting cheers from his soldiers and setting them a model they use in all further post warfare killing rituals. A frightening spectacle indeed!

Genghis Khan is brutal and utterly without mercy when a city resists him. He seethes with fury when he is ridiculed, humiliated or betrayed. And the revenge is swift and terrible. The Emperor of Xi Xia, Xian bears the brunt of the folly committed by his predecessors. The readers are not prepared for the sudden violence that descends upon the Emperor and his retinue. The peaceful and serene landscape is turned into a bloody and squishy terrain filled with human fat, blood and the stench of death. Sutapa Basu swings from one scene to the other with equal ease, meandering through the cunning, wicked, warring, strategic, cruel, gentle, loving and kind phases of the Mongol Khan tirelessly.

Though there are some novels describing the life history of Genghis Khan, this novel by Sutapa Basu is like the delicious fruit hidden deep inside a pudding, offering glimpses into the Mongol’s life from different perspectives. Readomania has added to its kitty another book that screams to be read, right from its book cover to the last chapter. Since the book is from an author of erudite background and a publishing company of repute, the Language style and the impeccability of the grammar used is beyond reproach. Books on historical fiction always pique the curiosity of readers, and this has not disappointed. Those who know of Genghis Khan as only a cruel and barbaric leader will learn other aspects of him that might cause a ray of light to shine upon his usually tinted features. Sutapa Basu is going from strength to strength with each of her novels, making us pine for more.

 

 

Literary Review – The Doodler of Dimashq

Have you ever felt grief hitting you under the belt? The blow that hits you like a sledgehammer, making you immobile and numb to pain because of an overdose of pain! This feeling would’ve been experienced by people waking up after a troubled sleep a day or two after the loss of a beloved person. The real feeling of the seeming unreal becoming reality! That’s the feeling that one feels and undergoes while reading The Doodler of Dimashq.

The sickening news of destruction, inhumanity and chaos remains just news from a faraway land. A land that has no connection with us. A land that we read about and share posts on Facebook and Twitter – not to mention the factions we divide ourselves into, attacking vociferously one while defending doggedly the other and becoming experts on World Politics. What Kirthi Jayakumar has done is, give a face to Syria and personalize the demons pulverizing the ancient human establishment. This comes at a cost – that of our emotions.

Ameenah is a normal girl of Dimashq, like the Elizabeths, Claires, Meenas and Valerias of other parts of the world. She is fourteen when her world changes topsy-turvy. Her school education is put on a pause as the war inches towards Dimashq, and she is married to Fathi, of Haleb. Fathi proves to be a doting husband and respects the feelings and emotions of Ameenah. Soon enough Ameenah continues her education in a school in Haleb. All through her life Ameenah takes comfort and interest in one thing – her doodles. She doodles whenever she gets free time.

Ameenah doubles up as a household helper to Fathi’s parents during the evenings and early mornings while her daytime is spent in school. In her spare time, she smuggles herself and her little bag with all her doodles to a quiet place and starts doodling. Everything that she sees and experiences becomes the theme of her drawings. And she guards them religiously. The doodles are her world.

The pains that Ameenah’s family members undertake to send her to safety are enormous, though mentioned only in undertones. Kirthi has skillfully played it subtly to be heard loudly. The scene in which Ameenah’s parents bid farewell to their daughter as she goes with her husband to his house is heart-wrenching, forcing the reader to close the book and stem the tears threatening to run down one’s face. Visuals form in the head seeing a tiny and frightened Ameenah sitting in the car with Fathi, as her parents, standing side-by-side, watch their daughter leave to a far-off land, with a stranger. The entire scene blasts one message through the air – the helplessness of the Syrian parents.

Life never seems to be fair to Ameenah. She has just settled in the Fathi household and becomes used to her loving husband and school when comes news of her parents’ demise. She becomes an orphan at sixteen. Seeing her parents’ bodies laid side by side – making her remember their farewell to her, she comes close to madness losing track of all things around her. The author Kirthi Jayakumar writes as follows,

“No. I didn’t cry. I just died inside.”

No stronger words could’ve been written. The actions of Fathi turn out to be a strong moral support to Ameenah who flounders on a miry quicksand of anxiety and melancholy. The way in which he recites poetry to her and brings solace to her is maddeningly sweet in an otherwise turbulent world of Ameenah. Bereft of family members, Ameenah draws closer to Fathi and all that he has to offer. When the last stronghold of Ameenah crumbles, with Fathi and his family being blown to smithereens, Ameenah changes. The hope that she brings into thousands of people through her drawings are wrought beautifully by the author. There are incidents that make one long to shout out while some incidents make one cry. A myriad of emotions cocktailing and frothing between two covers – that is The Doodler of Dimashq for you!

The best part of the novel is the theme conveyed through the story. A story of hope amidst depression, the light of life shining through the grim dark world and the message that humanity does and will continue to prosper through one act or the other. It could be as small or seemingly insignificant as a doodle. Remember that a drop of water is a life line for one who is parched. So is The Doodler of Dimashq, spreading joy and hope in spite of its background. Kirthi Jayakumar scores yet again. Not to be forgotten is the smooth and easy play of words in English by the author. Excellent language skills! The publishing house, Readomania, shares the glory in this domain.

Readomania has proved its quality and its determination to be away from the milling crowd of publication by bringing out this spectacular novel of hope. Kirthi Jayakumar churns out words that are sharper than the shrapnel ricocheting through the dusty streets of Haleb, either making hearts beat faster than is usual or making hearts stop doing their regular job. She always manages to change the rhythm of the heartbeats. Ameenah becomes us and we become Ameenah. We can empathize with the people of Syria. Their grief becomes ours. We stop living in other places. We enter the warzone, dodging bullets and diving into tunnels from barrel bombs. As for the cacophony of falling buildings, low flying planes, thundering helicopters and raining bombs, it is always present. For we are in Haleb. We just passed Dimashq. Didn’t we cry and lament over the ghost towns that lie wasted and in ruins? For us, Syria is no more a news. For we are part of the country and of the world. We are humans. We care.

Shadow in the Mirror – Literary Review

When was the last time you had goosebumps due to a moment of trepidation? The first glance at the cover of Shadow in the Mirror gives one the shivers. The foreboding face staring menacingly from the darkish blue front cover of the novel is enough to make a still mind quake, and stop with a screeching halt, the wavering mind. The title doesn’t help either. It adds to the eerie feeling. Not to mention the malevolence behind the eyes… those eyes.

The first chapter doesn’t disappoint… not one bit. The plunge into the abyss is horrific and heart-wrenching. Nita, a pregnant girl, falls from the balcony of her apartment in Bangalore. This is the background of the novel, and the stage couldn’t have been set better.

The novel is set mainly amidst the bustling city of Bangalore and yet travels along the sleepy hamlets of Kerala, allowing a whiff of coconut trees on a rainy day. The move to Kerala is a welcome one, as it takes the reader away from the gruesome death and its evil-eyed aura hovering just above the surface, waiting to overpower the reader any moment.

Shadow in the Mirror takes readers across a whirlwind of emotions, as the novel starts shaping itself through threads of small stories of different people. The main characters etch themselves firmly in the minds of the readers, baring their very souls. The difference in characterization among the leading people of the novel is by a good margin and there are no similarities leading to awkward misunderstandings.

The relationship between Krish and Nita is overwhelmingly innocent and dripping with love and affection for each other. Deepti Menon has intricately weaved a bond here that delves deep into the psychology of a Man and a Woman, their understanding of each other and their sacrifice for each other in their career and everyday affairs.

Kavitha is a character drawn from the waters of a torrential stream. The Dr. Jekyll and Hyde – sort of characterization is not a joke. Deepti Menon has pulled it off with elan! One moment the reader sympathizes with Kavitha, whereas the next moment fingers twitch, desirous of strangling her.

Eshwar and Sudha would never be forgotten by any reader, for the sheer ferocity of the husband and wife love that melts the reader. Eshwar is the epitome of a doting husband and a responsible father, as Sudha stands by him in every possible way. Sudha’s character is like that of an immovable mountain. Sorrow assails her unawares. She stands tall – breaking asunder the traditional hold that the society expects.

The novel is pleasantly guilty of sub-plots that the author has tastefully reworked from her life and that of her acquaintances. This has given a personal touch to the novel, making it a hybrography (Pardon the licence).

Deepti Menon’s mastery of the Language is evident from the first chapter. The reader is forced to stop reading the novel at times and give a wistful smile, giving way to reminiscences. Literary flavor abounds in the novel, the syntax of the Language exploited to the maximum by the author. The choice of words, the exclamatory endings, the casual reference to other literary works of art, the use of metaphors… all point to one thing – the ‘well-read’ personality of Deepti Menon. Each chapter has a point of delight for a connoisseur of the English Language. A rare phenomenon or should one call it PenOhMenon!

Verdict

Readomania has added a feather to its cap by publishing Shadow in the Mirror. The novel gives importance to women, gives credence to the independence of women and at the same time brings out the infallibility of women. The author has tastefully polished the novel from a maze of small stories which invariably find their way into the mainstream, delighting and scaring the reader alternately along the way. Emotions warring in the minds of the readers can’t but wonder what’s next in offing from Deepti Menon.

Confessions on an Island – Literary Review

confessions

 

The moment one hears the word Confession, one is reminded of either the various ‘confessions pages’ active on Facebook, or Churches with vicars ensconced within the dark comfort of the confession booths. But confessions on an island? That set in motion the wheels of curiosity fuelled by flashes of imagination running riot – what exactly could the confessions be about? Would they revolve around penitent people desperately hopeful of being forgiven and seeking abstinence from their sins? Would the confessions be something about an extra-marital affair? A murder, perhaps accidental? But what the author Ayan Pal has concocted is something that even a seasoned reader cannot fathom, without divulging deep into the novel right from the beginning and surfacing at the end with the treasure – the knowledge that confessions can be different, that they can take you to places in ways that you never imagined could happen and that they can make you feel void, though they be fiction.

An exotic island with mangroves! No nosey neighbours or troublesome kids. A house situated amidst the trees. The porch offers a peaceful view of the waves crashing on the shores. The occasional sound of birds as they fly in search of food, cuddly looking turtles running amok on the isolated beach and a young couple walking slowly on the beach, the girl’s eyes fixed on the far horizon…

Sounds captivating! Does it not? Let’s have a small change of scenario. On a closer inspection, the girl’s eyelids are swollen. Her hands are bruised. The seemingly leisurely walk that the couple has stems from the fact that the girl has difficulty in walking due to the injustice done to her body by the man with her… Yes, the man is her abductor. The island is no more exotic, but frightening. There is an insane craving to hear sounds of neighbours’ talk. Why was she kidnapped? And who was he?

Be transported to the mysterious island of Ayan Pal to find out for yourself…

Approach

Ayan Pal’s approach to this work is entirely different from the novels flooding the market these days. The plethora of characters and incidents surrounding and interlinking their lives makes one’s mind swim. The author has skillfully connected all events to make this a thrilling web of hidden mazes and surprising sub-plots.

Ayan Pal travels to the core of the readers’ minds through his debut novel, shocks readers by various twists and turns, evinces either revulsion or scintillation by the erotic scenes sprinkled generously across Confessions on an Island, brings smiles of appreciation to language aficionados by his use, and goes to the next level by making this psychological – almost Freudian. And that is a complement! There are incidents in the novel which may or may not have been taken out of the life of the author (and we are not talking about sex). The author’s love for his mother shines like a beacon for all to see. So does his love for Calcutta.

Ayan Pal keeps the readers guessing throughout the novel. This is almost like the novels of Agatha Christie, in which the readers are exposed to all the facts of the mystery. Many such facts are revealed chapter after chapter as readers frantically try to connect the dots and find the connection between the lady and the gent. This is a success. Nowhere does the story lag or go astray. This is what separates this novel from the other novels. This is engrossingly psychological and deeply mind searching.

 Research

It would be humanly impossible to pen a novel such as this without having first been buried under tons of books or been glued to a computer monitor like a fly on a wall. The mention of different dishes around the world, their origins and recipes stand as a monument in the novel testifying to the foodie hidden inside the author. One can almost taste certain dishes while reading – so powerful is the narration.

Talk about culture. This novel does it. The novel takes readers across the world – from Copenhagen to Lancaster and from there to Bangalore to New Delhi, and of course Malaysia, where the main action takes place. Cultures of the world are linked to form the basis of this novel. Without the criss-cross of varied cultures, this novel would not have the sweet aroma that emanates out of it.

 Verdict

One of the strengths of the novel is the last few chapters of the novel, as the seemingly unconnected events are drawn tightly together to make sense. As the motive is being revealed, one cannot but stop for awhile and marvel at the ingenuity of the author at having conceived such a complex plot with countless minions helping the smooth sail of the story. The language of the author is certainly laudable. It stands out from the language of the run of the mill books that reek of sub-standard language and rely on libidinous overtures to make sales, if any at all. That the author had targeted an upper educated class of readers is evident from the deep psychological approach used liberally. There are even traces of the stream of consciousness method, which is rarely found in Indian novels nowadays. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Confessions on an Island subscribed in the syllabus of M. A. English or for M. Phil. scholars of English Literature in the next few years. Newbie readers will not be able to navigate their way into this novel and be able to surface. The level is top-notch. Ayan Pal has imprinted himself as a literary novelist of the current era, at a time when India is badly in need of quality writers such as him. By doing so, he has made the Indian and global fans of his writing skills wait with bated breath for his next creation. What would it be?

Credits to Readomania for having published such a singular novel!

 

 

Death in Every Stride – Literary Review

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We sometimes come across situations that make us feel sick. There is the tightening of stomach and the possibility of throwing up. The thought that what transpires before us is in fact a dream, might also creep up in our minds. But to our horror, we would realize that what has happened has happened and cannot be changed. That is exactly the feeling that one gets while reading Death in Every Stride.

Krisanne is a young girl who gets married to Paul with great expectations. She meets the harsh realities of life in the guise of Paul and his erratic behaviour. How she leads her life with patience and doggedness is explained by Megha Agarwal in this short novel.

Try as one might, it is impossible to go into the ‘novel-reading mode’ after a couple of chapters. The ferocity of the words used to describe the protagonist’s husband makes the reader to reel under the punch of each word. In the process, the author has managed to bring out the varied emotions of Krisanne, the protagonist of the novel. The Hopeful Krisanne, dreaming of the joy of married life and yet wondering about the change that is to happen is a nice opening to the story. What perhaps makes one to look at this not as a story is the narrative technique used. The lack of additional information about the characters, the places and the story in general gives one the feeling of reading a personal diary. That is what makes this story so disturbing and real.

The thought of the possibility of many Krisannes suffering silently in this country makes the reader to pause in his/her reading spree and ponder. Paul has been portrayed as nothing short of a marauding monster – suspicious, inhumane and sickening in his sexual preference. The perseverance of Krisanne is evident throughout the story, reminding the readers of the many housewives across India holding fast to the tradition of marriage and bearing the atrocities of their husbands.

Megha Agarwal, the young author, has expressed the untold miseries of many a woman pan India in a way that few experienced and older women would be able to do. Be it the shifting emotions of Krisanne, her shock at her husband’s behaviour, the solace that Krisanne finds in Patricia, the submissive nature of Aarav and the scornful nature of Emily, Megha has wrought all carefully and presented them as a bundle of feelings for the readers. Authorspress has indeed come out with a book that almost every Indian can connect with because of the issues dealt with in the book.

However, there are some downsides to the book as well. If Megha Agarwal had only lengthened the stroke of her writings and increased the word count of the book by adding more details, Death in Every Stride’s stride would’ve turned into a gallop, garnering more interest. The reader as of now, completes reading the book almost as quick as he/she starts reading. Another big letdown of the book is its editing. Proper editing of the book could’ve transformed this book into a wonder beyond belief.

But what cannot be denied is the fact that Megha Agarwal has contributed to Indian Literature a book that talks for women, their plight, their perseverance and their ability to fight back. Megha is an author to look out for!

The Dove’s Lament – Literary Review

The Dove's Lament
The Dove’s Lament

Most humans often compare, complain and whine about the various problems and shortcomings that they face in life. None can dare measure those issues as being ludicrous or unnecessary, for no one but the person who undergoes problems would know the gravity of the situations and would be forced to come out with different potential solutions. However, what the whiners and touch me nots cannot measure is the enormity of the other people’s problems, for they would never have given ear to the languish escaping the mouths of stricken individuals. Wearing dark glasses, all that they would see is a dark world that offers them nothing but dim light to walk, failing to notice the crippled, wounded and dying people surrounding them. When the glasses are removed by chance, reality hits them in the stomach like a speeding locomotive – and it really hurts.

The Dove’s Lament does exactly that, making reality hit hard in a place where pain is felt all the more – at the heart!

We think we’ve seen it all, heard it all and well… experienced it all. Kirthi Jayakumar, through The Dove’s Lament, tears apart that false curtain of deceptively woven lies into shreds, leaving the reader gasping for breath. It is not every day that one comes across a book such as this. A book that makes the heart to stop beating for awhile, trying to come to terms with reality.

Genocide, the first story of the book gives the readers a glimpse of what is to follow. What had so far been to many readers only a figment of imagination of some obscure author while penning a novel, is visualized and brought alive, when readers realize through the essays at the end of each story, that Kirthi has recreated through her stories, the horrors experienced by people, people like us!

I saw Joseph Gahiji amongst them, knife in tow. Could it be really him, the man I knew? Could it be the very benevolent gentleman who brought his granddaughter to the same school as Habimana every day until the war broke out?

Sentences like the above rent hearts into two, as the story takes the reader into the mass killing that took place in Rwanda. We are not able to imagine even for a moment that it is just a story – Kirthi sees to that. Truth is felt in every sentence that one reads.

Fire in a Ring of Ice is a story set in the backdrop of The Srebrenica Massacre. The woes of a family struggling in war are brought out in a way that brings tears to the eyes. The son being compared to a creeper brings the imagery alive before one’s eyes. The separation of the men from the women in the house moistens one’s eyes, while the thoughts of the dying father bring hope to one’s hearts about the creeper – son being alive somewhere, to our solace.

For the Love of a Motherland is set in the Middle East amidst one of the longest conflicts going on in the world, the Israel – Palestine dispute. The innocence of the children in the story and the frank manner in which they speak their hearts out make one pray that the ending is not a blood smeared one. Kirthi has brought out emotions that play with one’s minds. The story brings out the pathetic condition of people who have lost their dear ones, their houses, their countries and their identities.

He noticed the boy get up from his spot at the table. ‘I will come with you, Papa.’

Papa! The soldier turned immobile momentarily at this long awaited first call of the boy.

‘Papa? Can I?’ The soldier’s resolve firmed. He would reclaim his future, and give it to his son.

The uncertainty in the minds of children and adults alike is wrought out in a manner that evokes pity on the characters, all the while reminding the reader yet again that this is not just a story, but reality.

Home is set in almost the same background as that of the previous story. The occupation of the West Bank by the Israeli forces and the displacement of thousands of Palestinians are brought alive to the readers through the eyes of Amal, as millions of thoughts zoom in and out of her mind. The story ends with a ray of hope as Amal inhales the heady feeling of being at home, in her motherland.

Sacrifice brings to the fore a trait that is not known to many around the globe. Two brothers born up in the same family are brought up for different purposes. The ugly practice of Bacha Baazi is dealt with in this story, as a story of brotherly love, misunderstanding and sacrifice unfolds, leaving readers with lumps in their throats. The activities of the youngest brother remind one of the affection shared amongst siblings around the world.

The Smallest Coffins is perhaps the story with which all readers would be able to connect easily, not only because of the enormity of the brutality but also because it is the most recent one that all can remember. The class room scene is hilarious and typical of a normal school children mentality story, till disaster strikes. The involvement of the family feud and the connection at the end bring a sorrowful wakening to the story, reminding the readers that the smallest coffins are indeed the heaviest. That such love could possibly be inside so small a form is mind numbing.

Desiccated Land is set in the geographical crown of the Indian sub-continent, Kashmir. The partition of India and Pakistan, and the gory scenes that made blood run in both countries, especially in Kashmir is brought alive in this story. Kirthi Jayakumar has the inane ability to delve deep into the minds of people and bring out their emotions. The love, misunderstanding, misdeed and the terrible aftermath is heart rendering to read.

Princess is another story from the land of India. An evil that is rampant in India is prostitution. What people usually do is to overlook or ignore the consequence of prostitution in families that are forced to sell the product of their own flesh and blood. The pain of the mother in seeing her daughter suffer the same fate that she did and yet being unable to make any other move than the one she did is the worst fate that could befall any mother. It happens in this story. Kirthi’s efficiency in story telling has moved up a couple of notches in this story alone. Such is the power of her pen, in revealing the pain of individuals, families and communities to the world.

A Night to Remember is set in the dark world of prostitution and human trafficking. The pathetic situation in which a girl child is sold to a brothel is told in a detailed manner. Poverty plays a role in many families into sending members for this heinous act.

From the ante-room, she was sold into the heart of permanent hell.

Ironically, it was the heart of momentary heaven for the men who knocked on its gates.

Lines like the above showcase the ability of the author to play with words while breaking the ear of the reader with the seriousness of the situation. The breakthrough to the protagonist of this story is the bold act taken at the end of the story, bringing hope.

Explosion makes the readers explode with emotion and tears. Suicide bombers who destroy many parts of the world and communities with their ruthless acts form the crux of this story. The love between sisters and the helplessness at the end make this a dolorous read. Families torn apart because of the war and the longing for peace among the characters remind readers of the grim reality of life in many parts of the world.

Imprisoned deals with the drug dealers and their trade in countries like Colombia. The story deals in its journey life in prison for young inmates and seasoned criminals, along with people serving sentences for wrongs done by others. The thread of connection in this story is awesomely interwoven thanks to Kirthi’s ability. The fact that drug dealing is an evil that must be rooted out is brought out clearly in the story. The fair child of December makes hearts heavy…

Esther’s Story is the jewel of The Dove’s Lament and is a fitting climax to this book that contains stories of tribulation and sorrow, for this story ends with the silver lining to cast away all misgivings that one would have gotten about this cruel world filled with people committing vile deeds. Habimana’s mother is filled with the encouragement that flows into her through the acquaintance of Ujasiri.

She nodded. Later that evening when I helped her with the sombe, she told me her name was Ujasiri. It meant courage.

Resilience.

Kirthi Jayakumar has given to this world a book as rare as Gollum’s ring. The Dove’s Lament is one of the rarest books to have been published in the recent times in terms of the problems dealt with, the manner in which the issues have been brought out, the deeply etched memories of the stories that just refuse to fade away into oblivion as other stories do, the relevance of the stories in the current world, the pathos surrounding all the stories, the heavily researched essays that substantiate each story, the usage of apt words in places befitting them, the ache that is produced in the hearts of readers, the determination that the book forces one to take, and above all, the burden in the heart of Kirthi Jayakumar to bring to light the atrocities happening in different countries of the world. The Dove’s Lament by Readomania is a precious possession of Indian Literature that appeals to International audience. Kudos to Readomania for publishing such an irreplaceable wonder!

Olivier Lafont – An Exclusive Interview

Winged Post is happy to have Olivier Lafont, the French actor and author of the mythological novel Warrior‘s exclusive attention and is thrilled to post the interview conducted with him.

Olivier Lafont with his recent novel 'Warrior'
Olivier Lafont with his recent novel ‘Warrior’

How was your transition from France to India? Any difficulties that you faced?

My family moved from France to India when I was seven years old, and the transition was difficult. I joined the American Embassy School, so I had two new cultures to adjust to, American and Indian. I also didn’t know any English, and had to learn it as quickly as possible to join the regular stream of education. The main difficulties I faced were cultural and linguistic. It did take some time, but I grew to love India – which is why I’m still here now.

 

How did you improve your skills in English?

I was able to develop skill in English because I was genuinely interested in the language, in reading, in writing. I became obsessed with my dictionary, even packing it in my suitcase when we traveled so I could learn new words.

 

If not fantasy, what would have been your chosen genre of writing?

That’s a tricky question, since fantasy is a fairly integral part of me and my history. I think I would have probably gravitated to science fiction.

 

If ‘Warrior’ is made into a film, which character do you think you would be fit to play?

I would play Saam – I know him through and through, and have lived his life in my writing.

 

Can you tell us about the research you made for writing this novel? What obstacles did you cross for undertaking the research?

The general research that forms the background of ‘Warrior’ is a lifetime of reading about Indian history, mythology, religion, philosophy. Once I had the idea and structure of the story in mind, I began to explore the pertinent subjects more specifically. Since I like to keep my writing process fairly organic and unpredictable there were many new elements that appeared along the way, so I’d spend time through the writing researching these elements. I don’t think there were any obstacles to my research, it was all straightforward.

Olivier Lafont
Olivier Lafont

After the promotion of ‘Warrior’ can we expect a sequel?

There are some ideas I have in mind, and I’d love to continue the story. There’s a whole world of ideas and themes here I’d like to explore. Let’s see!

 

Your relationship with contemporary writers?

I don’t know any contemporary writers very well, although I’ve met a few. Writing is a private endeavour, whereas media and performing arts involves more people, so most of the people I know are from the media and performing arts.

 

Any issue in India that you consider needs immediate attention and action?

I feel very strongly and urgently about the environment. Whatever may happen politically or socially, the vital bottomline for humanity is the health of the planet. We’re coming dangerously close to the point where all our modern influence won’t be able to turn back the critical mass of negative effects. That said I’m still hopeful about human ingenuity and determination, and that we can turn this ship around if we can get enough people to realise that this matters right now.

 

Does ‘Warrior’ have any message to the society?

I don’t have any message I want to communicate, frankly, with ‘Warrior’. I just want readers to have fun reading it. That said, there was one underlying social theme I wrote in very consciously, that of integration. I believe that integration, especially in a country as amazingly pluralistic as India, can be effectively and beautifully expressed in our art and our culture.

 

What do you think you can do as a writer to change any evil in the society? Have you done anything before?

I think it depends on the person’s ideology. I don’t think I would write a book about a social issue specifically, that’s not how I operate as an artist – and I don’t think people pick up a book in this genre to read about a social cause. If I feel strongly enough about the issue I prefer to be directly active about it. However I do believe that a writer’s ideology is reflected in his or her work. My social ideas and opinions are present in my work, and whatever impact they may have on a reader is the change I feel I can effect through my writing.

Feel free to use the following links to stay in touch with Olivier and his writings. 

‘WARRIOR’ BOOK TRAILER LINK

http://youtu.be/qDLMISZAzME

FACEBOOK PAGE

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Olivier-Lafont/625633327480645?ref=hl

TWITTER

https://mobile.twitter.com/OliLafont

‘WARRIOR’ AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.in/Warrior-Olivier-Lafont/dp/0143423630/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1417183321&sr=8-1&keywords=olivier+lafont+warrior

 

 

Warrior – Literary review

warrior cover

I vividly remember the blood curdling screams that pounded my head into a dulling sensation after sitting hunched up in the midst of my cousins, having listened to tales of monsters in unimaginable forms perform wicked deeds of infinite cruelty. I was scared of them-yes; but I never tired of them. There was in me a passion for stories related to legends, fantasy, magic and mythology. Unlikely heroes who were made so because of necessity, natural heroes who made it look easy whatever they did to become heroes, modest heroes who did not want to be seen doing heroic deeds, selfish heroes who did not want to brave the world and be heroic but were compelled to do so for the sake of someone else – my world was never short of heroes.

People who grew up in close-knit families would still remember with a wistful grin the thrilling and heady feeling they experienced in listening to folktales and myths being spun expertly by their grandmothers. The tales were often accompanied with gruesome laughter, inane sounds and shrieking banshees that made one’s blood freeze with terror. Added to these factors was the singular fact that the stories were usually told after supper under a feeble hurricane lamp that transmogrified a harmless cousin into a seemingly marauding Frankenstein.

It was no surprise then that stories involving monsters, heroes and myths imprinted a lasting impression and continued to make their abode in a corner of my mind, though in a forgotten state. The awakening my mind received regarding mythology was through the pages of Warrior, the mythological adventure story written by Olivier Lafont. What an awakening it was!

Saam, the protagonist of the novel is a demigod with tremendous powers. He lives in Mumbai as a watchmender keeping his powers under wraps. But the situation demands otherwise. The world struggles and totters under the scheme of the Enemy. It is the End of Days and everything that is to be done to save the world can be accomplished only through Saam. He takes on a perilous journey across India and ultimately the world, accompanied by his love Maya – a mortal woman, Ara – his half-brother, Moti and Fateh – two warriors of renown and allies of Ara, Fazal – a scholar and Lalbaal – a friend.

To say that the journey is dangerous would be an understatement. Not knowing the identity of the enemy, the group seems to be on a wild goose chase when the object of its pursuit is found nowhere in this world. The only choice left is to travel to another world resembling this world in another time – a daunting task indeed. However, the greatest difficulty encountered by the group is time – which they do not simply have. The End of Days has to be stopped, if possible, within three days. With time running out, to keep oneself alive and effectuate the immobilization of the End of Days seems to be a hopeless and frightening task. Yet, the group moves ahead, led by Saam – for it is the only hope the world has.

Olivier Lafont surprises the reader in one too many ways. Indian readers would immediately be glued to the story as the setting is predominantly in India, especially Northern. Readers of other countries will get a first hand taste of some of the greatest mythological stories that define India. It is indeed a wonder that a writer with French origin has written a novel that delves deep into Indian mythology and woos readers with its intricate plot and fast paced action. Warrior is a proper mix of action, adventure, fantasy, mythology, brotherhood and family ties. There is of course a tinge of romance. Added to the flavor is betrayal, terrible in its consequence.

Family

India is known for its tradition of strong family ties. Indian culture is made strong and viewed with respect by people of other nationalities due to its deep family roots. It is no wonder that the mythological tales of India are mostly about family affairs, sometimes gone wrong. The author has centred his story on a family heirloom. This single act of Olivier Lafont spreads the strong aroma of Indian culture in which huge importance is accorded to items used by their ancestors.

Saam is portrayed as a demigod with more powers than most other demigods roaming the earth. He has an intense hatred for his father, a god the world fears and reveres. Saam would readily plunge his sword to avenge the death of his mother by his father. The affection between Ara and Saam is warm, affectionate and also heart-wrenching at times. To depict such a variety of emotions surging through the hearts of the half-brothers and make the readers smile, frown, curse and also cry requires great talent; Olivier Lafont does this with ease.

When reading about Ara, one cannot but be reminded of Loki from Norse mythology. The casual arrogance of Ara, his smirky countenance that the reader can readily visualize, his nick name (read the novel to find out) and the strained yet loving fellowship he maintains with his brother resemble the cloudy fellowship between Thor and Loki. The author’s skill in writing is evident in the subtle manner in which the strained relationship between the brothers is brought out in many scenes. The helplessness that the brothers feel in certain situations mists the readers’ eyes.

Though the main characters of this novel are demigods, there is brought out of them human qualities that make the reader undergo variegated emotions. The struggle that Saam undergoes to control his anger and tears, the vulnerability that Saam feels while facing Maya, the distrust that Saam reserves for his half-brother Ara, the fury that the raksha Fateh uses to fuel his training for 300 years, the disappointment that Ara nurses in his bosom and above all, the nature of Saam’s father, a god, to reach out passionately for the love of his demigod son, at the least his friendship – all these speak volumes of the adept writing skills of the young author.

Research

Olivier Lafont has dug the earth quite deep for this novel’s research. The connecting of seemingly different events of the world and making them fall in line to give credibility to the story has been immaculately done by the author. His strength lies in his characters effortlessly traversing the boundaries of time and being believable. The introduction of Lieutenant Geoffrey Gordon from the Skinners Horse of the British Army for instance, has the touch of a master. So is the mention of Einstein, the theory of quantum of mechanics and the year in which Einstein was writing about the behavior of light.

The mention of a Baker carbine cavalry rifle talks again of the intense research having gone behind the making of the Warrior. The credit given to Indian craftsmen for making the rifle better sends roots deeper than before into the Indian soil and Indian mythology. The making of different mythological characters cannot be done as easily as characters are created for a normal novel. Credibility needs to be in balance for the reader to continue reading, for the readers would already be familiar with the mythology. This has been done nonchalantly by Olivier Lafont. The habile touches of the author in bringing us this novel will be appreciated by critics around the world.

Verdict

Olivier Lafont has brought on a silver plate, golden apples worth devouring. The author has made a clean dive into the unfathomable and age-old traditional & rich pit of Indian mythology and has created a unique story with characters that are heroic, godly, believable and very much necessary for this troublesome world to grind into the readers the belief that the future of the world is not bleak. However dark the clouds may gather, there will be a silver lining. The noble and the good must always stand against the evil irrespective of the strength of the enemy. For, to oppose the evil is to be true to your conscience. Olivier sends us the message that the age of chivalry is not yet dead. There still are heroes who will rise when the world needs them. The Warrior is clear about it. This is a novel that will inspire readers and give birth to many more stories worth reading. This book is a jewel that would adorn the shelves of mythological lovers throughout the world and continue to increase the readership level. This is certainly a book to read, and at once.

Rating: 4/5

 

The Inevitable – literary review

Literary Review of The Inevitable

Regulars at eateries and restaurants would savor each dish kept in front of them and never rush into gulping down any delicacy, for the usual visitors are lovers of food habitually attracted to a café by the aroma or the mouth watering taste of the delicious food prepared. Many a quality restaurant serve starters that ignite hunger in a staid stomach, whereas there are some starters that take hunger away from your growling tummy, tossing aside in the process, the desire to dine in a café ever again. The Inevitable is a collection of exotic delicacies spread before on a big table. There are starters, the main menu, side dishes and desserts. The Inevitable café differs from all other such establishments around the world in one way. Your stomach is satisfied with the well thought-out, spontaneous preparation of the starter before each main menu. Your mouth craves for the taste to linger in its mouth and your stomach hastily opens its entrails longing for the tasty morsels to come gushing in. The beauty of the poems acting as starters takes your breath away. You never want to move on, afraid that, the main menu, the side dishes and the tantalizing desserts with the ‘take me now’ look might not perhaps live up to the tasty reputation of the starter coursing down your throat now. Oh boy! Can you be more at fault than this?

That the poetic starters were penned down by Ashay Abbhi in moments of extreme pain is evident by the emotions seeping in between the lines. The aura of death encompassing the poems reminds you of Emily Dickinson’s works. Something there is in Ashay that endears him to death and its characteristics. May be, though you cannot be sure, it is the inevitability of death that propels Ashay to dwell so much on a topic everyone fears, and none dares to venture carefree. The finality of human life is painted in each of the poems either candidly or subtly. Is Ashay Abbhi then, a poet who has lost positive outlook towards life? Is he a pessimistic poet filled with hate, darkness and bile? Definitely not… For under the dark sky through the dark atmosphere surrounding his poems comes forth a piercing light brightening the sullen atmosphere – the main dishes that carry rays of hope for the lost mankind, his stories.

The stories of Ashay Abbhi expose you to the various places that the author has travelled. One can find the entire India ensconced within all his stories. He takes you to all the corners of the country and in fact, you get a chance to visit Africa too. The language of the author deserves a special mention. He mingles and connects with the reader in an effortless manner. When writing with words unheard of and unused usually seems to the order of the day for many budding writers, Ashay has travelled with the experience of a veteran, bringing to the reader the ideas of a modern young man. That is a feat to be applauded! The emotions are strong, with some hitting you right in the face with their brutal frankness. You long for the protagonists, willing yourself to stop yourself from silently mouthing words of comfort to them. Such is the power of the man’s writing.

Imagine

I have taken the liberty of using Imagine as the title for the introductory poem for which I beg the forgiveness of Ashay Abbhi. Imagination is a gift that sustains human beings. Each imagines things in a different way in his/her own capacity. Who has not imagined? As mentioned earlier, the starter gets you imagining. For imagine you must death, to live until gives wings to your imagination making you soar into the sky.

The 9th Cross

This poem depicts the confusion a just – created spectre has as it travels in search of belonging to someplace, someone… to be comfortable and be loved. The poet has left clues hanging in the poem to guide the reader into the maze of the spectre. A brilliant insight indeed!

The Yellow Wall

You are treated to a serene surrounding as you start this story. The magnificence of Himalayas humbles you as your train goes chugging along windy tracks. As you get down, a sense of curiosity comes out that deepens into a feeling of certainty and horror. The tonga-wallah cannot be forgotten easily. Who is he in reality? It is for you to interpret.

The search for love

The meaning of the poem is clearly but cleverly written to make the readers understand the inner meaning of love. Religion has been used to infuse the meaning lucidly. The language content has been considerably raised in this poem to lend quality to the poem.

Love for Tea

Ashay Abbhi brings out the power of love through this story. The end leaves you in tears. The sacrifice made by the couple through the years, each for the other, is heart-breaking and tear-producing. You can smell the tea leaves from far away.

Five cups of Tea

This poem reminds one of the different stages in a person’s life depicted by William Shakespeare. The five cups of tea tells us the stark realities of life. This poem is a collection of simple words woven eloquently to tell the philosophy of life.

Coffee at Midnight

Chennai comes alive at midnight as the protagonist of the story thirsts for a cup of coffee. The policemen and the coffee-wallah are engrained in your minds. The violence is sudden and short-lived, but necessary for the story to have its effect on the readers.

I’ll take you Away

The poem drifts in like a waft of fresh air, giving hope to the suffering. The poem can be interpreted into any way the reader wants. The one giving hope and taking you away from tribulations could be anyone… even death.

The night it rained

The poverty of India is highlighted in this story. The story is concise and structured in a way to evoke sympathy from the readers. The helpless situation of the poor of the country is pitiable.

A Day

A typical day in the life of a person who has lost his/her desire to live and is depressed, is portrayed powerfully in this poem, especially so in the last two lines that read ‘little of life is left to live, little is there to die with me’.

Just another Day

This story of Ashay deals with two things predominantly – mob psychology that can wreak havoc and superstitions of villagers in India. Though comical initially, the story has an upheaval that is disturbingly true of any mob activity anywhere in the world.

The Moonlit Shore

This poem also deals with death and the aftermath. People close in life remain so in death too, lying next to each other, with the moonlight shining on the bodies.

Living to Die

The atmosphere is eerie. It sure does give creeps to the reader. Why does the woman follow the funeral procession? Why does the man not resist the urge to follow the woman? Read on to find more…

Departed from life

A soul narrates the life led by its body before and after the separation of body and soul. The grim silence and the different perceptions from which objects are viewed by the soul make this poem an interesting read.

Kalimpong

Gorkhas and their deeds of bravery are shot at us in the mountains of Kalimpong. The atrocities of the military, the natural response of the Gorkhas to fight nail and teeth for their homeland and the dignity of woman are emotionally written. Above all, the utter calm with which Gorkhas face inevitable death is saddening and awe-inspiring. This story deserves a re-read.

A sight travels

The imminence of death is brought out in this poem by a sight that travels over the horizon, into dreams and the world beyond.

Darkness

The reader cannot but feel sorry for the protagonist languishing in the darkness. The car hit not only the protagonist but also the pride of the character, plunging into darkness his entire life. Evokes pity.

Endless wait…

This poem talks about the endless waiting sessions that everyone has in various points of life. This is almost like the poem in which Wordsworth asks, “What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare?”. Powerful ideas contained in a single poem.

The New Year’s Eve

This is yet another story that makes the reader pity the lead character and is filled with irony. The reader can also relate to the character’s musings. A little oversight in proof reading gives a momentary confusion which can be overcome easily.

Living Dead

This poem is proof of the exemplary writing skills and spontaneity of the poet. The emotions jostle for space among the minds of the reader, vying for space.

Bashir Bhai Ghadi Dega Kya?

A hilarious story that has been coated with a terror brush, this is one story to enjoy and let your guard down. The story also tends to make one think that this could have happened or could happen to anyone.

Sometimes…

A poem penned for the peace of the world, the writing is filled with deep philosophical insight that could be used as the Bible for today’s terror-stricken world and society.

The Escape

A trip to Africa amidst gun toting mercenaries leaves you speechless and frightened. The entire scenario is action packed and to a certain extent possible in the world currently. The story is good, but definitely not the best of the lot.

Part of the Game…

A delightful and poignant way of the way of life, this poem is light – hearted and true. The Almighty’s supervision of everything that happens in this life is beautifully written.

 

Ashes of Bad Writers

This story needs an ‘A’ certification for the gore and violence it depicts. A superb plot, written in a way that shakes and makes you read your work countless number of times, fearing the worst is worthy of the writer. That poetic justice is served makes the story credible.

Peace

War torn countries and the plight of countless number of stranded and homeless children probably influenced Ashay to pen this powerful poem. This poem deserves a place with the literary greats of the bygone era.

Ashay Abbhi has come out with a book that has all the necessary ingredients to make that both a starter and main dish, satisfying the body and soul completely. The greatness of the author is revealed in his works, be it the swishing poems or the racy stories. It is of course to be expected that when such talent is there in a person, it is inevitable that The Inevitable must be released. The book is certainly the result of a herculean effort, taking into consideration the quality brought forth and the young age of the author. Nowhere does the author slip, except for a slight editing mistake. The Inevitable will certainly make heads to turn, attracting popularity to the author and changing the world for good, towards peace.

Rating: 4/5

 

Crossed & Knotted – literary review

If writing a novel is an art, penning a short story is art in its advanced stage. This would be vouchsafed by any writer worth his/her salt. What then would one call, the art of writing multiple short stories and linking all those stories to form one big story? Quite daunting task – one might think, to write such a unique story. Hold your breath! For this might just blow you away. What if each story was authored by a different writer to form one Grand story – a wholesome story; an apodictic novel made up of tiny, vibrant, countless number of tales from various parts of the country, nay, world. Mind-boggling – to say the least. Yet, the seemingly impossible has been attempted. Words have been weaved into and across webs, growing tall as mountains, traversing divergent terrains, avoiding snarling traffic, merging cultures, crossing into each other, evoking senses of fear, thrill, affection, loathsomeness and love, to finally form a big knot; a knot crossed and knotted enough to be termed Crossed & Knotted.

Though contrary in professions and life styles, the common platform shared by all the authors of Readomania’s Crossed & Knotted is the love for writing. Without love, this writing would not have emanated. The gushing forth of unbridled emotions washes and takes one on a whirlwind of fantasy. Love for the lingua franca has been the pivoting force acting on all the authors to have made possible this different approach of writing.

Sudip remains firmly etched in one’s memory. His transition through the different phases of his life is crystal clear. One cannot but wonder if Sutapa Basu framed the name of the character based on her name. Sutapa’s writing has lucidly portrayed the innocence manipulated by the deceptiveness of the society. The turmoil between Sudip and his conscience is mind-searching. The title A Curious Dalliance verily makes one curious about many things. Questions are left unanswered making one eager to jump headlong into the next chapter.

Ayan Pal has written a snippet that proves yet again, his mettle as a writer of growing reputation. His unimpaired language skills make The Diary of Joseph Varughese a riveting read. The chapter has a thread of connection from the previous story. Moving at a relaxed pace initially, the story picks up speed and suspense with each passing page and ends with a spine chilling note. The beauty of Kerala among the pages draws the reader like a magnet towards the story, endearing himself/herself to the story.

Sanchita Sen Das’s experiences as a journalist have given her story an edge over other stories in her portrayal of the mindset of a journalist in the story. Siya lives in the hearts of the readers as a lonely and frightened wife – yet managing to do justice to her profession by intimidating intimidation. She is the picture of a modern woman, balancing work and being a loving mother. The Web of Life spins out several strands from the web of life including psychology, and makes the cobweb quite inter-crossed and inter-knotted.

The merging of two cultures and the comparisons drawn are proofs of the ingenuity of Arvind Passey in The real fiction of Illiana Braun. The knowledge of the author on different cultures compels the reader to visualize the murky waters of the Ouse on the banks of which strolled Varu in his Scottish coat. Arvind is able to give the reader feelings of joy and premonition at the drop of a hat. The inclusion of the three witches reminds one of The Bard and his plays.

A Burning Candle by Mithun Mukherjee buds on a suspicious note and blossoms into an eerie atmosphere that has one’s senses numbed and frozen by fear. The transition leaves one speechless. One begins to wonder! Could it happen? If yes, could it be happening to me in real life? Such is the power of Mithun’s narration. The background of the story adds to the weird feeling.

The Grand story that had introduced many characters takes a turn under the guidance of Avanti Sopory, bringing in some of the old characters. The setting of the story takes the reader to a terrain and country not usually written about. The strong message imbibed in the story does not lessen the interest, but rather gives the story credibility. Relics to Ruins certainly makes one see for real what one watches in televisions.

Leap of Faith by Bhaswar Mukherjee gives the reader faith in taking the leap of faith. For, if not for hope and faith, then how would mankind sustain itself? Hope amidst turmoil, humanity standing tall when all seems to be lost and love triumphing over hate are some of the key elements on which Bhaswar the war(word)lord has built his tribe. The linking of seemingly unconnected events shows the brilliance of the author.

Reclaiming Life by Anupama Jain would give many a reader the courage and the wisdom necessary to reclaim their lives, if necessary. Poorni is pitied initially and admired finally by all readers. Anupama has definitely taken Indian Writing to new levels by masterfully describing an Indian family situation. The necessity to act for the sake of the society and the shackles the society can put on a person and families have been powerfully written.

Unlike Smaug of The Hobbit which slept for years silently, Deepti Menon’s dragon breathes fire down the necks of all people it encounters in its life relentlessly and consistently. The depiction of Kamu in the Dragon Lady speaks volumes of the ability of the writer. Drafted in flawless English, the story makes for a delightful read except for the irate feeling Kamu evokes in the reader, which again proves the hallmark of Deepti as an efficient writer. The only thought running across one’s mind would probably be ‘On whom did Deepti model Kamu?

 Amrit Sinha has penned a wonderful story under the title For a Speck of a Moment. His experiences as an Analytics Consultant have crept into his story, forming a sub-plot much necessary for the progress of the tale. The real life atrocities that were just news have become personal, thanks to Amrit. He gets the reader to feel the pain of losing and the joy of gaining, in love. One cannot but feel one’s heart going out to Binoy.

To Ma & Pa, Can Amore! is a lively tale that abounds with the love, quarrels and situations that any might face while living in India. Monika Nair’s Shanker struts around in the worlds of the readers strutting around rigidly while his eyes betray the love for his daughter Mona Lisa. The modern outlook which is so feared by parents because of the unknown is written fabulously. The love happening is casual and real, taking one on a memorable trip down the lane by years.

Look Beyond by Amar Lakshya Pawar introduces a crucial character to the success of the Grand story. One of the hopeless situations in which human beings are sometimes stranded, is written in a way to make the reader feel the pain. The three witches make their presence felt once again, adding a sinister touch to the plot.

Bhuvaneshwari Shankar brings to light the possibilities that could be thrown at the feet of a person by circumstances. Dawn at Dusk is a fitting title, as dawn is experienced by Sudip at a stage when daylight was deemed impossible. The Grand story too gets its adrenaline rush, giving the readers a smile on their faces. The author’s language is apt thanks to her doctoral degree in English Literature.

The title and the content of The Last Act remind one of His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sudip has been masterfully portrayed by Arpita Banerjee. The tale told by the security guard, the scribbling on the diary, the unused flat… all make for a thrilling read. The scene in the hospital is the cream on the cake. The love of Sudip for his family is the linking thread of Crossed & Knotted.

To sum it up, Crossed & Knotted makes the readers realize that there are authors in India, many of whom are budding, who can mesmerize people with their story line, plot and language skills. The venture into an area not attempted by others is a laudable effort by Readomania. The novel is definitely worth its salt and not some run of the mill product. The downside of the novel would be the many characters that have drifted off midway, never to return. But this is to be expected of a novel of its kind. Language purists would be happy with but a few authors whose writings are without errors in areas of concord, idioms, pronouns and tenses. The second edition should probably see the death of such errors. When taking into account the insurmountable height Readomania’s Crossed & Knotted has come to, such errors are easily forgiven. On a contemporary rating, Crossed & Knotted would stay at the top of the peak for a long time.

Rating: 4.5/5