When a non-fiction book is written by a Pulitzer Prize winning author and when it is a reportage of life in ‘Annawadi’, a makeshift settlement behind a row of luxury hotels and close to the new International Airport in Mumbai, it cannot but be a gripping and touching read.
The aspirations and goals of parents and the younger generation strike a chord. One is guilt-ridden as ones eyes move around the room in which they are sitting and reading… Maybe sunk in a favourite couch, coffee at hand, fresh fragrance to soothe and create an ‘atmosphere’ perfect for reading….and then you enter the slums, gagging on imaginary stench, and gut-wrenching poverty.
The excitement of rag pickers when they come across trash thrown by the rich, gives a clear insight into a world very few pause to think about. The suppressed emotions and tensions over sex, religion and power, show the layers in which society exists. It also reflects on how idealism is a luxury one affords when the belly is full and the children are healthy, otherwise one would sell ones soul and ones body too.
Catherine’s book is relentless and no-holds-barred account of life. It has a truth that all of us are aware of but few are comfortable enough to confront, quite like Arvind Adiga’s ‘White Tiger’.
The stories that pan out are touching and shocking… How can people live like this, one wonders?
But they do… Millions of them…
I must admit that this was the first time I read a Kannada novel translated into English.
This is a slim copy taking us into a middle-class urban Indian family that comes into big money after seeing a life of great financial difficulties. The sentiments of all members, the emotional tug of war, the petty lies and deceit that make their way into personalities make for a fascinating read.
It was over in one lazy Sunday reading session but has piqued my curiosity enough to know and read more works by Vivek Shanbhag.
I must have seen this cover a hundred times, yet I can’t get over the beauty of it! The colours, the expression, the textures… All are a work of extreme purity.
Now, to come to what’s between the covers… Pure excellence.
Meandering between three decades, starting from the art and life of the first female Dutch artist to be invited to join the Artists Guild in 1600s, to present day New York of 2000 and a painting called, ‘At the Edge of the Wood’ and it’s forgery. Three alternating timelines and locations and their impact on the lives of different people, is done masterfully by Dominic Smith.
I couldn’t agree more with the ‘People’ magazine review… “This beautiful meditation on love, loss, and art is as luminous as a Vermeer. ‘
Loved every word of this fabulous book.
Remember the joy of coming across a forgotten pressed Rose? A first Valentine memory or a beauty that one wanted to always remember….So one found a book of poetry or whatever it is that one was reading at that time and placed it between the pages and shut the book gently…
And there it lay, a pressed rose, exuding its fragrance and coaxing it into the aging pages of your cherished book, till one day, years later, you chance upon it once again and you drop everything to just sit and reminisce about that small yet beautiful moment in life…
One that came back on the delicate wings of a pressed rose.