Daily Archives: March 6, 2012

Book Review: Drifting House by Krys Lee

Title: Drifting House
Author: Krys Lee
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0-571-27618-9
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 210
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I always look forward to reading a collection of short stories, especially when they are written well and leave an impact on my mind and emotions. Short stories are like wistful appetizers, that leave you wanting more and that one bite sometimes is just not enough. I had to make this analogy because this is what came to mind, when I finished reading, “Drifting House” by Krys Lee.

Drifting House is a collection of nine stories, spanning across North Korea, South Korea and America. The tales but obviously aren’t a happy read. The stories are centered on themes of love, loss, home, and sense of belonging. Starting from Korea and ending in America, one can clearly see the difference in culture and how Koreans are also treated in a different country.

The title story, “Drifting House” is about children escaping a famine situation in North Korea and the horrifying sacrifices they have to make in order to survive. The stories spark and only because they are so real. Krys writes with such elegance and grace that the reader gets drawn in the struggle of the characters. Lee wants us to feel this way as she takes on themes in her book and yes to some extent, I did end up feeling that way.

My favourite story in the entire collection is, “A Temporary Marriage” – where a mother leaves Korea after being abandoned by her husband, who has also kidnapped their daughter. She marries a man in America, only to be close to her daughter, and she feels nothing for the man. The Believer on the other hand is a more violent story in the book of losing faith and the search for God at the same time.

Lee’s characters are as human as you and I, though going through difficult times and situations. The collection according to me will find resonance also beyond the audience who are fascinated with Korea anyway. The language is a bit much, in the sense that it takes time for the reader to set in to the story, however that is only initially. For me, there were deeper meanings hidden in the pages of this book and I loved discovering them.

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Book Review: The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki

Title: The Flying Man
Author: Roopa Farooki
Publisher: Headline Review, Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-7553-9417-3
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 338
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Roopa Farooki’s new book is unlike anything else I have read by her earlier. Even the writing for that matter is different from her other books. The Flying Man is about a man’s life, lived through cities and countries and in various disguises, from where the title comes about.

The Flying Man did take me some time to get into, as it didn’t start with the aplomb I thought it would. However, once the story got me going, I could not stop reading it. The central character of the novel is a man who cannot stay at one place (as you would expect from the title, and the story keeps up to it). This is because he is a criminal (well for that you have to read the book), has had many wives and children (in almost every city) and now, years later, his past is catching up with him. His name is Maqil – also known as Mike, Mehmet, Mikhail and Miguel, and it is all these characters and men (different and yet the same) that Ms. Farooki brings alive in her book.

The book worked for me on various levels. It spoke of conscience, love, fathering children (which I couldn’t relate to), the children’s view about their father, his tracks left behind and of what it feels like when the past is ready to catch up with you, only to culminate in love at the end, as with most stories and plots.

Roopa Farooki writes swiftly and without wasting any time. The urgency in her words and writing is apparent and maybe that is what works best with a book like this. The character of Maqil is of course well charted and documented, however it is also the other characters that equally add to the plot – his many wives, his estranged relationship with his children and their voices and that of his creditors as well, adding sometimes the much needed humour. The Flying Man has its moments of almost every emotion on the range and that’s what makes readers connect to it. I highly recommend this book as a season read.

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