Category Archives: February 2016

Attachment by Florence Noiville

Attachment by Florence Noiville Title: Attachment
Author: Florence Noiville
Translated by: Teresa Lavender Fagan
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN: 9780857422330
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages:128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

A young girl and an older man fall in love. She is all of seventeen – not yet an adult. He is close to fifty and her professor. She loves him and he loves her. He is but obviously married and that is how the novella is played out – between the two – not to forget her daughter, who after years is trying to make sense of her mother’s life, her affair and what love really is in the larger scheme of things – if it is anything at all.

“Attachment” by Florence Noiville is a stunner of a novella. It is epistolary – letters written by Marie (which her daughter chances upon) to her lover H and that is how the novella opens to the reader.

The book explores the obsessive nature of love – how it can resurrect you and how it can ruin you completely. It is also about that one thing inside of us that makes us attached to people whom we shouldn’t have approached to begin with.

The writing is crisp and to the point and that is what I guess any reader will love first and appreciate about the book. The book doesn’t go on and on without any end. To a very large extent, credit must also be given to the beautiful translation by Teresa Lavender Fagan and the ability with which, the translation is able to stick true to the aesthetics to the original – or so it seems, given the flow and the meanings that emerge.

“Attachment” to me is an immensely powerful novella – that very skillfully manages to integrate pasts and presents of people alive and dead. Honestly I would give this book to anyone who has ever been in love or is in love as of now, just for the poetry of prose that it has to present.

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George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
ISBN: 978-0545812542
Genre: Teens, Young Adult
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

When the publisher gave me a copy of “George” by Alex Gino to read, I knew it very then that I would love it to bits and I did. “George” is a story that could be taking place around us and we would not even know of it. I think a lot has been written about the L and G of the LGBT community, but not enough on the transgender and transsexual bit (there is also a difference between the two by the way), so “George” came as a refreshing surprise when I picked it up.

George is a boy and she knows she is a girl. She can feel it deep down and all she wants is to be a girl and do the things that girls do. She hates it when people refer to her as a boy and try and expect her to do all the things that boys do. All she wants is to be Charlotte in the school play Charlotte’s web and she cannot because people see her as a boy. Even her teach won’t understand her dilemma. Neither will her brother Scott and Mom. But she has her best friend Kelly who believes in her and will do anything so she can play Charlotte.

In the midst of bullies, her situation and the need to be who she is, “George” finally comes into her own at the end of the book. How? Well that is for you to read and find out.

I absolutely loved this book. I have never read anything like this – about a transgender teen and I think it is so needed in our times more than ever. People need to be made aware and know what is going on before they judge severely or jump to any conclusions.

The tone of the book is emotional and sometimes funny but mostly it will leave you with a warm tingling feeling in your heart which is the idea anyway. Initially you might have a problem shifting between genders in your head, but when it is clear, you will breeze through that. The writing is quick and simple and easily readable and relatable at that – when it comes to coming of age.

I also would strongly urge all parents to read this book, because it would probably help them know their child better and respect differences in them, if any. I also think that it is time someone in India wrote about this – from a child, a teenager and an adult’s perspective. It is so needed given how ignorant we are when it comes to this sphere of the gender. It is more so about gender politics than actually being empathetic to their needs.

There were times when I felt the book was being rushed but I guess that’s how the author combo (yeah Alex and Gino are two people) wanted it that way. All said and done, I immensely enjoyed the journey of a ten-year old about being who he always knew he was – a girl. I was hooting for “George” till the very end and hoping that this is just the beginning for her.

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In other words by Jhumpa Lahiri

In Other Title: In Other Words
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Translated by: Ann Goldstein
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton, Penguin India
ISBN: 9780670088898
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Learning a new language is not easy. At least in my experience it hasn’t been easy. I tried and struggled with French and could only get this far. After that, either I gave up on the language or the language gave up on me (I don’t even think that’s possible though). I wish I had continued with it for a while and mastered it perhaps. However, that was not meant to be.

Language is a tricky thing to learn. Some say there is a certain age to it. Some say you have to speak it with someone who is fluent, every single day and immerse yourself in it. Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book “In Other Words” is all about how she learned Italian because she wanted to, moved to Rome to learn it more and finally wrote a book in Italian (the translated version by Ann Goldstein is what I have read).

This book to me was more about life than language. It was about a writer’s struggle to not only conquer the language but also at a deeper level come to terms with identity, cultural and emotional barriers and what makes a person complete.

“In other words” is more than just a memoir even – it is going to the depths of what a writer thinks, imagines, and struggles with, dreams about and how it all comes together when she writes. The writing is simple and even though it is translated from Italian, it doesn’t lose its essence. That to me is the indication of some spectacular writing right there – when it doesn’t take away anything from the original in the translated form.

The book is meticulously crafted – giving the readers a view to the writer’s innermost fears, the insecurity of writing in another language and to reveal her new linguistic identity, so to speak. Her stay in Rome was almost a self-exile as she traded her English for Italian – almost a new life. As readers, what comes to us most of the time is the dulled down version, without any of the writer’s angst, however this is not that version. It is raw and stark and right there – demanding your time and attention.

The book is about a writer’s journey and what comes along the way – sometimes even in the name of experimentation and what shape it takes at the end of it all. Jhumpa Lahiri’s struggle with the language and the need to overcome it are so strong that you find yourself almost cheering for her, knowing that she managed to write the book in Italian after all.

“In Other Words” is the kind of book that will also make you question your own creative beliefs and think of the roads not taken. Jhumpa Lahiri’s graceful writing – in its most simple form will evoke a lot of emotions inside the reader – fear, love, frustration, anger, the desire to accomplish something, to push your boundaries and to perhaps experience something new and different in what you do.

Definitely a book not to be missed out on this February.

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Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki Title: Skim
Words by: Mariko Tamaki
Pictures by: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Groundwood Books
ISBN: 9780888997531
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 143
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I had heard a lot about “Skim” before purchasing it. It is all about teenage angst, but I also think it is meant for everyone who wants to find a place of their own in this world and also about what path you want to choose, when there are so many in front of you.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron – who isn’t slim, is also a Wiccan Goth (well she does want to be it) and goes to a private girls’ school, where keeping up and meanness is in vogue. It all begins with Katie Matthews’ boyfriend dumps her and then kills himself. This starts a chain reaction of events at school forcing Skim to think about things she doesn’t want to and also in the process she falls in love and doesn’t know what to do anymore.

“Skim” as a book works on so many levels – adolescence, crushes, love – gay or not, forming cliques and what happens when you’re not a part of them, first love, and more than anything else – a way to find yourself is explored beautifully in this slim graphic novel.

It is the kind of book that can and should be given to every teenager as a rite of passage so it can help them come into their own. It is a book about being young and more than anything else it is about actualization to some extent. Please do not judge it by the cover. The illustrations are beyond words beautiful and it is all in black and white, which makes it even more special.

I am glad I read this book this year and more importantly this month. February as cliché as it may sound is about love (well all months are) and one must read some books all about love – twisted or not.

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Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark

Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark Title: Plumdog
Author: Emma Chichester Clark
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224098403
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

If you haven’t had a dog, or had a dog or still have a dog or in general love dogs, then “Plumdog” is the book for you. “Plumdog” happened to me on a Sunday at Wayword and Wise as I was browsing their shelves and chanced upon this little gem.

Plumdog - Image 1

I wasn’t aware then that Emma had a blog about her dog Plum that she updated quite regularly if not daily, neither was I aware that it was about the daily ongoing of life as seen through her dog Plum. And might I add that this book is a graphic novel, which is beautifully illustrated by Emma and that’s why it is even more special.

XY2775_Plumdog_UK_066.pdf

Now you know what “Plumdog” is about. I have said what I had to in the earlier paragraph. Having said that, why should you read this book? I will not even get there, because honestly, I believe that everyone should read it. Animals are way more precious than human beings and more importantly dogs. They love with no conditions. They give selflessly. Their loyalty is fierce and they know how to be there for you. Plum loves playing catching the twig, diving into rivers, treats (but of course) and spending time on her parents’ bed and of course also being all snooty when approached by the boys.

Plumdog - Image 3

“Plumdog” is all of that rolled into one about how dogs are and what they might think, which is a treat (I said that already but I cannot help but gush over it). Plumdog is a gift to be given to all who you know who love dogs and also who love pets in general. It will warm your soul and heart like no other book.

And add to that, it is also a blog on: http://www.emmachichesterclark.co.uk/blog.php Read it.

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