Tag Archives: longing

Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed

Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed Title: Nejma
Author: Nayyirah Waheed
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1494493325
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 178
Source: Kindle Unlimited Library
Rating: 4 Stars

Another glorious read by Nayyirah Waheed and she manages to strike yet another chord with me. I mean one book after the other and I just want to lap and take everything she has to offer. Her words are deliciously bitter, lonely and angst-ridden. All they want is an audience – ears that will take it all in and reflect. Souls that will be moved and perhaps prompted to do something about the atrocities of the world.

“Nejma” by Nayyirah Waheed is a poetry collection which is kinda overlooked in the shadow of “salt” but you will definitely not be disappointed when you give this one a go. The poems come from a place of suffering, of introspection and then they sweep you to places of the heart and mind that you never thought you’d venture.

Waheed’s writing is so lucid that it seeps into your soul and I am not even exaggerating about this. I think every poem was so different and unique that it had me wondering – that she can go on and on and on and I would love to turn the pages and soak it all in. The poems are structured again like they were in “salt” – the poem, followed by a word – so it seems that the poem describes the word – which it really does.

“Nejma” is a collection of poems that range from the extremely angry to the tiredly gracious to the most subtle that breaks your heart – over and over again. Might I also add that it is because of independent publishers such as Create Space, we get to read these gems. The poetry that sticks is the kind you always go back to – reliving those words and wanting more. Three cheers to them and to the power of words that keep us alive – day by day.

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salt. by Nayyirah Waheed

salt by Nayyirah Waheed Title: salt.
Author: Nayyirah Waheed
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1492238287
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 258
Source: Borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 5 Stars

Once in a while you read something that shakes your core. It jolts you out of the mundane existence and makes you question everything and everyone around you. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever felt so compelled by art? Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry did that to me. It made me want to drop everything, leave everything behind and go and find myself. It had that kind of an impact. I am this close to perhaps even doing that.

I don’t know why it felt the way it did, but I honestly believe that if any work of art can drive you to this point or to tears (which also happened by the way) then it is an indication that you wake up, smell the coffee and do something about what is going on – in your life and also to perhaps make a better change in someone else’s life as well.

“salt” is a collection of poems by Waheed on the condition of being black, feeling alienated, how the heart is empty and bereft, how does one heal after all, and of various other matters of the heart and soul. Each poem comes with a word at the bottom – the poem defines the word – gives it meaning and that is the format of this collection.

I don’t know what more to say about this magnificent collection of poems. I have no words, honestly. I don’t even know if I would be doing the book any justice at all by talking about it. “salt” is the kind of collection of poems that will rip your heart out, toss it a little, turn it a bit, throw it far away, make you realize what you have lost, make you fetch it, repair it and let it heal. A stunning collection of poems.

The Inflatable Woman by Rachael Ball

The Inflatable Woman by Rachael Ball Title: The Inflatable Woman
Author: Rachael Ball
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408858073
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 544
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Hands down “The Inflatable Woman” is one of the best graphic novels I have read this year and it is not too early to say that given that more than eleven months are still to go. But this one by Rachael Ball stirs the heart and also makes you smile at the end of it.
Iris is a zookeeper waiting for love to hit her and charm the life out of her. She is at the same time chatting with a lighthouse keeper online who goes by the name, sailor_buoy_39 and she is balletgirl_42 though she doesn’t know anything about ballet.

And overnight, just like that, she comes to know that she has got breast cancer and there is nothing she can do about it but visit doctors, meet nurses, get to know other patients and still finds no respite. She is thrown into this world that she knows nothing about and is expected to face it with the support of her Grandmother, her friend Maud and a bunch of singing penguins.

What I loved about this graphic novel was the way in which the art is done. It is all black and white with Iris’s thoughts all over the place and then you have splashes of colour all over, just like life, isn’t it? I absolutely loved Iris’s determination when it came down to tough situations or her fears as well – when she thinks she can no longer handle anyone or anything.

Ball’s writing and illustrations are vivid, clear and also quite surreal given the context of the plot. “The Inflatable Woman” to me was a one-of-a-kind graphic novel. I enjoyed it immensely and could not get enough of it at all.

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Book Review: Arzee the Dwarf by Chandrahas Choudhury

Title: Arzee The Dwarf
Author: Chandrahas Choudhury
Publisher: Harper Collins India
ISBN: 978-93-5029-216-7
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 201
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I had heard a lot about, “Arzee the Dwarf” by Chandrahas Choudhury. A lot of people had recommended it. Some suggested that I do not read it. I finally did and I found it to be quite alright. I liked the premise of the book for sure. There were some parts that I had trouble going through but that is for later.

“Arzee the Dwarf” as the title suggests is a slice of life of a dwarf’s life. Of course there is more to it, but that is putting it simply. Chandrahas writes about lost hopes, dreams, love and the times we live in quite eloquently. Let me now tell you something about the book and the plot.

“Arzee the Dwarf” is a metaphor, for the smallness and inadequacy that stays in all of us. Despite this though, life moves on and surprises us in ways unknown which at the core is what this book is all about.

Arzee searches for regularity in his life – a job, a wife, and the things that complete a man. He is always seeking these as consolation to his diminutive size. The novel opens to Arzee’s elation at assuming that he is going to be made the head projectionist at Noor Cinema, after his senior has resigned. He builds his dreams around this. That of keeping his family happy (his mother and brother), of getting married, and of rising up in the world (quite ironically so). But the cinema owners decide to shut the theatre, thereby crashing all hopes that Arzee has been harboring.

If this is not enough, he also owes money to cricket bookies who set loose a goon in the form of Deepak on him. The readers are exposed to power play in various forms – Of Deepak trying to exercise his strength (he is a huge man) and at times, pitying Arzee (but of course for the obvious reason) and letting him default with the payment, only to be back.

With such a host of different characters, Chandrahas takes us into a world, unknown to us, and yet connected to us in ways which we cannot imagine. The good thing about the book is the universal language that it speaks – that of loneliness and longing. Everyone can relate to it. Mumbai is seen differently in the book – it is comforting and at the same time looming large over Arzee and the life he aspires. Arzee represents all hopes of a world that come crashing down sooner than they are built.

There are times when the dwarf’s monologue is a little too much to handle, and of course then comes in the touch of self-pity, at almost every page. That is something I could not handle. I thought that could have been toned down a bit. The secondary characters were built on really well and sometimes not so. For instance, Deepak has had a strong characterization throughout the book, and on the other hand I wished to know more about Arzee’s mother and Monique, the hairdresser, but sadly could not.

The ending is vague but intended that way so maybe readers can draw their own conclusions. It does not spoon-feed the reader which is refreshing. Overall, Arzee the Dwarf stands as a testimony to the hopes we still hang to and the dreams we sometimes see even during the day.

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Book Review: Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

Title: Anatomy of a Disapperance
Author: Hisham Matar
Publisher: Penguin Viking
ISBN: 978-0670916511
Genre: Literary Fiction
PP: 256 Pages
Price: Rs. 399
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Hisham Matar’s background has a particular resonance at the moment, with the momentous and violent events taking place in Libya. His father was a political dissident opposed the Gaddafi regime, and the family were forced to flee their home and went to live in Egypt. It was from Cairo that his father was abducted, never to be seen again by Matar, although he was reported to be imprisoned in a notorious Libyan jail.

And his latest novel `Anatomy of a Disappearance’ is a moving piece of writing that draws heavily on this personal experience of loss. It is a relatively short book, at less than 250 pages, but is densely packed with emotion, desire, and desperation. It is beautifully written as it explores the relationship between Nuri, a young boy, his father Kamal, and new girlfriend Mona. It is fourteen year old Nuri who spots Mona first, by a hotel pool whilst on holiday, and he gallantly and confidently helps her to take a thorn out of her foot. She is much younger than Kamal, but nevertheless becomes his partner, but Nuri cannot repress the strong feelings that he had and continues to have for her, with inevitable consequences.

His wealthy and privileged upbringing, despite the loss of his beloved mother, is the backdrop to this tale, played out surrounded by other strong female characters like his long devoted servant Naima. He is sent away to an English boarding school at Mona’s insistence, and from here has to suffer the wrench of his father’s disappearance. Kamal’s political views and actions are not clearly spelt out, but the inference about them leading to his loss of liberty is made clear.

I enjoyed reading this book. At first I thought I was going to get bored with so much adolescent angst, but the story soon takes off in some very unexpected directions. The writing is beautiful throughout – sparse, elegant prose which demonstrates Matar’s ability to exercise restraint where it is required, levaing the reader to fill in the gaps. Reading Anatomy of a Disappearance is a joint-effort, the words generating an inner dialogue with readers as they reflect on the occasionally poetic turn of phrase.

Hisham Matar is well-qualified to write this book, born in America of Libyan parents he spent his childhood in Libya and Egypt, but took his degree in architecture in London. As the book moves around from one location to another it is quite clear that this is normal territory to this cosmopolitan writer.