Thursday, July 30, 2009

The White Tiger

Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008, is basically about the journey of a man named Balram Halwai from the poverty of the poor village in the country side to being a success in India. Halwai, born in Laxamangarh, grown up seeing his father as a rickshaw puller who finally died from cough and tuberculosis in a public hospital. Balram, nicknamed as the White Tiger ( a creature that comes along only once in a generation) in his school days, dropped out of school early and went with his brother to work in a tea shop in Dhanabad. The book tells how Balram gave himself a better education at the tea shop than he could have got at any school. Living life in Darkness, Balram plans his escape from his family's existence in search for a better job and salary. He is hired as a number 2 driver to Mr Ashok in Delhi but as soon as he gets chance, he replaces the number 1 driver. Balram is very committed and honest to his masters Mr Ashok and Pinky Madam who ruthlessly exploit the poor and carry out their business activities in Delhi by bribing big bellies and government officials. But gradually and yet inevitably the aura of corruption in Delhi transforms the innocent and honest Balram into a murderer. And later by adopting the same ways of his Master, Balram recreate himself as an entrepreneur in the booming Indian economy. Balram's voice is seductive and his observations acute, combined with sardonic wit and trace of sadness as he expresses the inescapable and bitter truth of Indian ways. This intense read can open the eyes of many western readers. I loved this book and found it exceedingly interesting as Adiga's writing is compelling as well as persuasive.

Monday, July 13, 2009

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

As it comes from a Pakistani writer, I immediately reached for this book which many people claim to be the best fiction ever written about Pakistan. In Other Rooms,Other Wonders is a collection of eight short stories. Mueenuddin interlaces these eight stories, linking them to the household of a wealthy and self-satisfied landowner named K.K. Harouni. Mueenuddin has tried to reveal the complexities of Pakistani class and culture and I felt that Mueenuddin's Pakistan is ONLY dark, depressing and bleak. Happiness is very short-lived as every story has a desolate and harsh end. Therefore when I finished the first few stories, I found it hard to continue reading the book. I never believed that Mueenuddin has represented complete Pakistan (my country, which I love very much) but has just potrayed it's dark and gloomy side ignoring the beautiful and much loved side where people are also dutiful and generous. The epigraph to In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a Punjabi proverb: "Three things for which we kill -- Land, women and gold." and throughout the book, Mueenuddin showed his characters actually representing this epigraph. Nearly everyone in the book is more or less corrupt. In Nawabdin electrician, Nawabbddin is electrician who cheats the electric company. In provide provide, Jaglani through his cruel machinations gains profit. In About a burning girl, a husband murders his wife by burning her and in almost every story women use sex to prey on the men. Thus, Corruption is too ubiquitous here and It took much effort to complete this book with such sad, tragic and harsh stories

Anne Frank: The diary of a young girl

I really enjoyed reading the book probably because it seemed to come straight from a 13 year old teenage girl who changed drastically while hiding in the 'Secret Annexe'. Anne Frank with her family and four other people went into hiding to flee the horrors of Nazi Occupation during second world War. Anne describes the frustrations of living in confined quarters and about her struggle to fight back the difficulties. The book is special because it is from an ordinary and yet extraordinary teenage girl who presents exceedingly mature ideas and never gives up hope. She decides not to live an ordinary life and to be different from all girls. "I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments." There are few flaws like events or scenes are not described so well or people aren't introduced well but then we shouldn't forget that it comes from a DIARY. Thus, I would still say that it was a great read.

The Catcher in the Rye

I enjoyed reading almost every part of the book. This book illustrates the feelings of a sixteen year old boy who fails at and have problems with almost everything and perhaps we can conclude that he is undergoing a phase of discordance. The signs that Holden is a troubled child are many:He fails out of four schools, he doesn't care about his future, he has a fight with his room mate and decides to leave the hostel, gets involved in risky matters and is never satisfied or content. Holden is a peculiar boy and has idiosyncratic behavior several times. One of the most notable peculiarity is that he is extremely judgmental of almost everything and everybody which makes the book hilarious and funny few times. This book basically describes the inability of a child to see or understand the complexities of the adult word.

The Zahir

This book was not of the same quality as Alchemist but still presented some noble and elevated concepts as presented in all of paulo's books and perhaps the reason I read his books is that they always tend to feature some sort of spiritual quest. There is also a aspect of Sufism in Paulo's books which make them more eminent.

The unnamed narrator of this story is a writer whose wife, Esther, a war correspondent leaves him suddenly without any information or trace of leaving. When she disappears, he is disturbed by the mystery of what has happened. Has she been killed, kidnaped, or left him for another love. The narrator starts his struggle to find the reason of Esther's disappearance and eventually he realizes that she is the one who fills his life with meaning.

Coelho has not created a master work on the level of Alchemist but still there are some insights on courage needed to reach destiny, risks and possiblities of life and rewards of forgetting personal histories.

A Confession

Wonderful book! it was amazing to read a thinker's quest for God and about his struggle to find the answers to the most basic and fundamental questions of life which even the most learned people tend to ignore and are oblivious of the fact that life is meaningless without FAITH.

I am a muslim and was inspired by many of tolstoy's conclusions which coincide with the teachings of ISLAM.

"Every person comes into the world through the wll of God. And God created man in such a way that each of us can either destroy his soul or save it. Man's purpose in life is to save his soul; in order to save his soul he must live according to God"

ISLAM also means to subjugate yourself to the will of ALMIGHTY and live according to His principles. it is in one's own hands to destroy his soul or save it.

Blasphemy: A Novel

No doubt, the concept was constructive and held some veracity in it but i thought few details and stories were exaggerated.It demonstrated problems faced by women.

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