Interpreter of Maladies – Jhumpa Lahiri

Contributor: Anwesa

Anwesa’s Rating: 3.0/5.0

GoodRead’s Rating: 4.1/5.0

Genre: Fiction, Short Story

Review:

A collection of 9 short stories, mostly based on second-generation immigrants to America. A common thread of irony runs all through the book. The language is plain and simple. People who like Rabindranath Tagore and O.Henry will like this for sure.

 

 

Comments: It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in the year 2000 and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. It was also chosen as The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year and is on Oprah Winfrey’s Top Ten Book List.

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And The Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseni

Contributor: Adarsh

Adarsh’s Rating: 4.5/5.0

GoodRead’s Rating: 4.11/5

Genre: Literary Fiction

Review:

And the Mountains Echoed is widely read Khaled Hosseni’s third novel, following The Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Suns. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the story telling abilities of a minor character is described as follows :

..This was often the pattern of their conversations, Gholam choosing what they would talk about, launching into a story with gusto, roping Adel in, only to lose interest and leave both the story and Adel dangling

I believe Khaled Hosseini must have completed writing this book, brutally self-appraised his own work, and then fit in this line that succinctly describes his writing style as far as And the Mountains Echoed is concerned. And the Mountains Echoed is written in a completely non-linear fashion, starting at Afghanistan in the 1940s, spanning across countries and time.

The novel begins with a father narrating a story to his children Abdullah and Pari:
So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one. But just this one. Don’t either of you ask me for more….One story, then. Listen, both of you, listen well. And don’t interrupt“.
And as Saboor starts narrating a magical story involving “jinn s” (genies) and “div s” (demons), we immediately sense that this story-inside-story is just a metaphor, and the metaphor is explained almost immediately. The book moves at a breakneck speed, until the narrative shifts to explain the back-story of a minor character. We are mildly irritated at this diversion, but invest ourselves with a completely new character, only to find that the narrative shifts again, to a different place and time.

The narrative also takes different forms. While it is mostly third person, it shifts to first person at times, and epistolary at others. This narrative could be discerning for some. Also, one feelds that the book focuses more on minor characters, and does not tell us enough about the lead characters. But this is exactly what makes me love this book, more than The Kiterunner and Thousand Splendid Suns (am I the only one to say so?). Almost every character has a back-story, which explains clearly the motive for their actions.
And this shifting narrative, isn’t that what life is all about? We meet a lot of people, we love few and we hate few, and then we are forced to separate from them all and meet a completely new set of people. Our knowledge of others’ lives is not complete, it is filled only with bits and pieces. Khaled Hosseni’s writing is magical, and by the end of novel, any lingering doubt in his mastery of storytelling is swept away. I could relate to the emotions and actions of most characters – Abdullah, Pari, Nabi, Suleiman, Marcos, Thalia, Pari (no typo here), and my favorite Odie. No character is morally right or wrong – like the epigraph says,

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

On the flip side, I felt that a few characters like Gholam, Adel, Timur and Idris had enormous potential to be developed, but were left incomplete. There is a general opinion that this book is about sibling love. It is. But it is also about a galaxy of other human emotions. It is about a man who realises the true worth of his mom when he is 55 years old, it is about a woman who abandons her child to pursue her ambitions, it is about a girl jealous of her more beautiful sibling, it is about a man who almost dies at a place far away from home, lives on, and gives back to the society in his own way, it is about a man to lazy too do what he knows is right, and it is much more.

Comments: I recommend this novel to everyone – this is a book you cannot hate (if your idea of good book is one that focuses on the story alone,and dispels all distractions, you might be mildly disappointed with this book. But still, you won’t hate it, and you won’t have wasted your time). And don’t mind the narrative – like Nabi says
A story is like a moving train: no matter where you hop onboard, you are all bound to reach your destination sooner or later.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

Contributor: Rohit Mishra

Rohit’s Rating: 3.5/5.0

GoodRead’s Rating: 4.2/5

Genre: Coming of Age

Review:

Movie on the same

  • has same director, characters, punchlines, excellent music
  • deserves 4.5/5.0.
  • is a must watch
  • has been tailored version of book at very few places
  • makes you feel infinite

Book is only half as good!

Comments: Some might call it effect of watching a movie before reading the book, but movie made me read the book, I just had to. And I am not sure if it would have happened other way round had I read the book first.

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes – Thomas Cathcart , Daniel Klein

Contributor: Switler

Switler’s Rating: 4.0/5.0

GoodRead’s Rating: 3.77/5

Genre: Philosophy

Review:

‘Pluto and Platypus walk into a Bar’ can also be called ‘When Philosophy marries Humor’! This is a philosophical book and the best part is that it is Humorous! This is the only book I have read (so far) which blends the two wonderfully. It tries to explain the reader about various branches of Philosophy without going too much into the details. And the authors have used jokes to explain the philosophical concepts.

Those who enjoy philosophy will enjoy this book thoroughly but those who keep such books at bay can still go for it. They will at least enjoy the jokes! They may not make one roll on the floor with laughter but one will nevertheless find those amusing! I give the authors full marks for finding appropriate jokes for the concepts!!! Just amazing!

Let me end the review with 2 jokes from the book!!

==
(This one is where authors try to explain that everyone has a purpose!)
“Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren. A friend stopped to ask her how old they were. She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

==
(This one is where authors explain the difference between essential and accidental properties!)
Abe: I got a riddle for you, Sol. What’s green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?
Sol: I give up.
Abe: A herring.
Sol: But a herring isn’t green.
Abe: So you can paint it green.
Sol: But a herring doesn’t hang on the wall.
Abe: Put a nail through it, it hangs on the wall.
Sol: But a herring doesn’t whistle!
Abe: So? It doesn’t whistle. Sue me!

Comments: Happy chuckling:-)

The Runaway Jury – John Grisham

Contributor: Switler

Switler’s Rating: 4.0/5.0

GoodRead’s Rating: 3.85/5

Genre: Legal Thriller

Review:

I don’t know if I should be writing this review or not. I also don’t know if I will be able to do justice to this book. To me it’s simple. It is a John Grisham book and that’s all about it. However for all of you who are not his die-hard fans or have never read his work, this is my humble opinion!

‘The Runaway Jury’ is just another Legal-Thriller by John Grisham. However, once you finish it, you will definitely want more! It’s about a tobacco trial – the case of Celeste Wood, the widow of Jacob Wood, who has died from lung cancer after years and years of smoking three packs of Bristols a day. They are up against Pynex, one of the Big Four tobacco companies in the United States. The start is interesting but the story becomes a bit slow when Grisham tries to explain how the Jury functions. This, in a way, is good for those, who otherwise, would not understand what is happening! Gradually it picks up pace! Big four are trying everything to win this case as the stakes are enormous – just one verdict against them and all hell would break loose! This trial is everything but a routine trial! Jurors are being spied on, behaving strangely, and even sequestered. Everyone wants to control the Jury! The point however is, who is able to do it and how? Just when you thought it’s over, is when it takes an interesting turn! While writing some court scenes, Grisham has added subtle humor in such a way that you not only are forced to imagine the events, but you also end up chuckling! Give him 80-90 pages or so to get you hooked, and he will keep you up reading half the night.

Comments: Happy Reading 🙂