Daily Archives: October 10, 2013

Book Review: Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski Title: Little Boy Lost
Author: Marghanita Laski
Publisher: Persephone Books
ISBN: 9781906462055
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 234
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

“Little Boy Lost” is one of those books which you will read and will keep coming back to again and again. I have reread it twice in less than a year and it is one of those lost classics which I am very happy that Persephone Books decided to reprint.

The plot sucks the reader right in from page on. A Christmas Day, which is supposed to be the happiest day for a family, however it isn’t for Hilary Wainwright, a poet and intellectual who returns to France after WWII, to find his lost child of five years ago. One doesn’t know whether the child is his or not, who is now in Normandy. There are several other questions that arise in the narrative which make this the most compelling and nail-biting read you would encounter.

Marghanita Laski’s style of writing is also rather linear – and she has also ensured that while writing quite simply, the plot gets entangled at most points. That seemed a little confusing at first; however I soon got used to the writing style. The emotions are quite raw and unapologetic in the entire narrative. The book also speaks of war, but obviously and that is running parallel to the search of his boy.

There is a lot of challenge and adventure and mystery at the same time in this book, which perhaps made it so special to me that I reread it. Every aspect of the narrative shakes you up and wants you to know what is going to eventually going to happen. I cannot stop raving about the book and highly recommend this one.

Book Review: This Side, That Side: Restorying Partition. Curated by Vishwajyoti Ghosh

This Side That Side Title: This Side, That Side: Restorying Partition: Graphic Narratives from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh
Curated by: Vishwajyoti Ghosh
Publisher: Yoda Press with Goethe Institut
ISBN: 9789382579014
Genre: Graphic Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

What is home? What is its meaning? Does it lose its value when disassociated from it? When torn away and not being able to look at it and then made to rely only on memory to experience what it feels like to be home. What is home then? What was home during the Partition of India? Two countries were formed no doubt. The herald of a new beginning some would say and yet it was disastrous for so many. Perhaps, it has reached a stage that while it exists in our subconscious, we yet are afraid to acknowledge its horrors. The fact that it happened – it took place and claimed lives is something too strong for us to give it its due and then when we fail to do that, we have art to remind us. All the time.

Art makes us see what we do not want to. It makes us hear what we choose to become deaf to. It compels us to not turn our face to the other side. With this in mind and maybe more, Yoda Press in conjunction with Goethe Institut has published a brilliant graphic anthology on the partition of India and Pakistan, and also the creation of Bangladesh, called, “This Side, That Side: Restorying Partition”, which is curated by Vishwajyoti Ghosh.

The collection is unique not in the sense that it is in the graphic format, but perhaps because it aims to store memories in the form of lines and drawings and black and white. The shades of grey have no need to be documented. They are there – all-pervasive and daunting. There are twenty eight pieces in this collection – written and illustrated by over forty people. A work of greatness, in the sense of the contribution and most empathic – sometimes bordering sentimental, however don’t those times deserve that? Memory doesn’t let go.

I remember my grandmother telling me tales about partition, when she and her husband came to India. They had no choice, she would tell me and I didn’t understand then. I was but a child and now while reading this book, all I could think of was her. Displacement. It almost seems but a word till you face it. The stories in this collection look at every facet of Partition – whether it is in the most Bollywood of manner as portrayed in “An Afterlife” between two lovers who must part or in the way of the survivor as documented in “Know Directions Home?” depicting how a tribe moved from Pakistan to India and made a home for itself.

It isn’t that because of the form of expression being different (graphic + words in this case), the impact is any lesser. You end up feeling the same. At some level, only a South Asian can understand this book and at another level it speaks universally to all those people who have left home or searching for home. Vishwajyoti Ghosh has done a commendable job of getting these people together and somehow while reading this book, you know that they share a common emotion – yearning and longing. It just doesn’t let go of you as a reader. “This Side, That Side” is not just another graphic novel. It has the effect of pulling you right in and making connections that you never otherwise would have. A read to be savoured. Page by page. Illustration by Illustration. Word by Word.