Daily Archives: October 27, 2013

Book Review: Jamali-Kamali: A Tale of Passion in Mughal India by Karen Chase

Jamali Kamali - A Tale of Passion in Mughal India by Karen Chase Title: Jamali-Kamali: A Tale of Passion in Mughal India
Author: Karen Chase
Publisher: Mapin Publisher
ISBN: 9788189995126
Genre: Poetry, Non-Fiction, Love
Pages: 80
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

There is a tomb in Mehrauli, Delhi and a mosque as well. A mausoleum or rather a twin one, belonging to two people, buried side by side. They are called Jamali-Kamali and they are quite famous in the capital city. The mosque and tomb have verses inscribed on its walls – the ones written by Jamali and the interior design is simply breath-taking.

People speculate about Kamali, since Jamali’s identity is known. Jamali was a Sufi poet in Mughal India. Babur and Humayun both were his patrons and enjoyed what he wrote. In fact, at some point, he also went to war and did them proud. That is the story of Jamali – more or less and nothing else to it.

On the other hand, there is the question of Kamali, who isn’t known at all. There is nothing said or written about Kamali. There are a lot of speculations and a lot of rumours as well. Some say it was his wife. Some say it was Jamali’s lover. Some say it was Jamali’s nom-de-plume. There is another story as well to it – that of Kamali being Jamali’s male lover. With this in mind, Karen Chase set out to write a book of poems from both perspectives – that of Jamali and Kamali and their mad passionate love in Mughal India. Where perhaps, there was no reason to tolerate love. Love was just love – in whatever form or gender.

Karen Chase’s book begins with an introduction to the legend of Jamali-Kamali, followed by her exquisite verses, to be ended with Jamali’s own poem. The combination is lethal. There were times I had to stop reading and catch my breath as I was so overwhelmed by the writing. It is about love and it knows no shame. It is about love and it knows no gender. It doesn’t ridicule nor does it judge. Karen’s imagination runs wild. She holds nothing back in her writing and that is why it is so powerful. I recommend that people with bias read this. People who are prejudiced. People who see the world so narrowly that they miss out on its beauty. And yes, next year I sure will visit the tomb of Jamali-Kamali and say a prayer for all lovers.

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Book Review: In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House by Denton Welch

Apple and Drops of rain Title: In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House
Author: Denton Welch
Publisher: Exact Change
ISBN:
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages:
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

“In Youth is Pleasure & I Left My Grandfather’s House” by Denton Welch is one of those books which you need to have time to reread the minute after you have finished reading it. It is one of those books that demands to be reread, I think. It rather compels you to reread it. Some books have that effect on people and those books are few and far in-between. This is one of them. I discovered this book through The Novel Cure Reading Challenge and I cannot thank Susan and Ella enough for including this in their book.

The book while about adolescence and growing-up is also sometimes a meditation on the world around us – on how we choose to see and behave in it and how it really is. To be very honest, it is but alone the descriptions that make this book what it is – a classic. Welch takes the ordinary and creates something extraordinary out of it. A simple scene becomes magical and the reader is in for a treat. There are very few writers who are able to manage that.

“In Youth is Pleasure” is definitely about coming of age, however it is also about life and all that it has to offer and doesn’t. Orville Pym is a character like none other than I have come across in fiction in recent times. It is a story of his one summer and how it changes him and the way he sees things and people. Pym is full of despair and yet there are moments that redeem him quite suddenly. As a reader, I did have a tough time sometimes reading this book, however it was only initially. Later, it was a breeze.

Most people have not heard of this gem of a book and that needs to change for sure. It is a book that needs to be cherished and savoured like fine wine. I will also go so far and say that it is a book which you will never forget after having read it.

Next Up on the Challenge: Cure for Adoption: Run by Ann Patchett