“After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”
I remember picking up this book and seeing a japanese name and thinking I would be in for some thrilling samurai fights and exotic Japanese folklores. I love keeping my anticipations untainted, so I try not to look for a summary or a review before I read a book. In any event, I did not think I was going to be disappointed. It was going to be a great read, seeing that, it had won a manbooker prize, and the author is also a Nobel Laureate.
By the time I started however, I was pleasantly surprised. I continued reading the book in the voice of an English actor (Mark Strong? Maybe Benedict Cumberbatch? ) because I really could not help it. The story follows a butler in a prominent household. I like that he is proud of his job and his accomplishments in running a house before things fell apart. I think his life just shows how easy it is for the human mind to accept certain things, once they can be rationalised or explained. In my opinion, Stevens is an embodiment of the stereotype that have been ascribed English people over time – snobbish, stiff, “dignified” (whatever that means), and cold. (It just feels that way.)
“Nevertheless, blood is thicker than water, as anyone knows who has tasted both.”
The Blind Assassin won the Man Booker’s Prize in 2000. This is my Third Booker Prize winner this year. I would have said it is my best book so far but that would not be true. Here is why – every author I have read in this year have told their stories without holding anything back (that is how it feels like). From the lucid narration of the overly-convincing fantasy spun by Yann Martel, to the rhythmless disorder in the plot woven by Arundhati Roy, and now this triple treat delivered by Margaret Atwood in 533 pages. Every book keeps blowing me away, and the Blind Assassin has blown me to pieces, I kid you not.
The best thing about this book is that you are following three plots (actually four) at the same time – it is pure genius. The stories are distinct yet intertwined. The stories are so beautifully written with so much clarity. There is no opportunity for the reader to get lost. The heroine of the novel, Iris Chase, is an elderly woman who is in her last days. This is another interesting feature for me. The main character or the voice of narration of most fiction would usually be a child or an adult. More commonly, the narration will be done in such a manner that it “ages” with that character. So, the diction changes with the time setting in the book i.e. from the character’s childhood till when they become older. In the Blind Assassin, the younger days of the heroine are related using flashbacks.
The book, Life of Pi, is written by Yann Martel and won the Man Booker Prize in 2002. This review is a quarter late – my apologies. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there will be no spoilers. I actually heard about the movie before the book. Although I am yet to watch the movie, having read the book, I have “difficulties” imagining the story on the Big Screen. My “difficulties” notwithstanding, the movie was widely accepted by critics and won several oscars including the best cinematography and the best directors award. Well done to Ang Lee.
The book opens with an author narrating his search for a big break which we can surmise that he is lucky to find when he meets the protagonist of the story who is willing to share the story with him. The story is thus being reported by the author as told him by the protagonist of the story.
Actually, when I started reading the book I thought it was some biography until I got to the end and it seemed like the author was trying to mess with my mind. He not only tried, he obviously succeeded. The book messed with my mind. The author has done a very good job of portraying fiction as reality. Now that I think about it, there were some outrageous things in the plot that should have struck me as odd – I mean they did, but I just felt well… Another reason why I didn’t have problems believng the story was the express mention in the story that the survival of the protagonist could only have been by the divine intervention of God. This is an integral part of my faith – that God’s majesty and greatness is beyond our understanding and that his acts are usually bigger than our wildest imaginations. Yann Martel’s potrayal of religion in this story is worthy of note. Pi, the protagonist, is a christian, muslim and hindu at the same time. I guess Pi’s adherence to the tenets of each of the religion articulates Yann’s idea of religious tolerance. Or is this some far-fetched inference from the book?
Yann Martel did an amazing job of creating a riveting story from point of view of a shipwreck survivor who spent several months stranded at sea with a huge tiger on a life boat. Yann is able to share the childhood of the protagonist, and his growth during his time at sea. The narration is lucid, easy to follow, and really believable. I would never as classified “Life of Pi” as fantasy. It is very believable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
All I just want to say is “Life of Pi” is spectacular and Yann Martel did an awesome job.
I have reviewed my goal of reading the man booker’s prize winners to one book every quarter. The first book for this year is Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things”. I am writing this review with a bit of shame because it is coming two quarters late. As always, there will be no spoilers.
I am not a fan of the arrangement of the plot of the book. I say this because it defied chronology. At first, it is difficult to appreciate the sequence of events because the reader is lost trying to figure out whether the event occurred in the past or in the present. However, this pays off in the end because I think the story is a tragedy. Honestly, everything went downhill pretty quickly but because the author narrates the resolution of the plot somewhere in the middle – there is neither suspense nor climax. What you get at the end is some kind of relief that in the midst of the tragedies, there were at least some good moments. Secondly, the author switches the point of view of the narration from the third person to narrating through Rahel – one of the main characters. If this was not intentional, I think it turned out great nonetheless. This switch in the point of view of the narration does little harm to the already-convoluted sequence of events. Continue reading “ARUNDHATI ROY’S THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS”→
I remember my reaction when I read the first line from the book – “‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice”. I could not believe what I had t read.
I totally loved Cal Newport’s writing style – lucid and factual. He is also very engaging. First, he summarises the content of a chapter at the end of the chapter. Then, in the subsequent chapter, he explains how the conclusions of the previous chapter flow into the issue being talked about in the present chapter. His team did a fantastic job. I was impressed and I feel like I was actually having a conversation with the author with each page I turned.
As a young professional, people ask you where you see yourself in, say, five years and what contribution you would like to make to your field. I am speaking from my experience – I always panicked at these questions because I realised at the beginning of my career that my theoretical education is at parallel with what actually obtains in practice. For me, I was focused on ‘re-learning’ in my first work year. So when people inquired about some five-year plan, they almost always drew a blank because I felt like I was still developing skills and the knowledge I needed to answer that question. Along the line, I tried to come up with plans because it seemed like the question was inevitable. Everywhere I turned to I was slapped with the ‘passion fever’. I began to question whether I really knew what I was doing because I had no illusions about having a passion. How do you not have a passion?! Continue reading “CAL NEWPORT’S SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU”→