Tag Archives: Reading Women Challenge 2021

Read 237 of 2021. The Women I Could Be by Sangita Jogi. English Text by Gita Wolf.

The Women I Could Be by Sangita Jogi

Title: The Women I Could Be
Author: Sangita Jogi
English Text by Gita Wolf
Publisher: Tara Books
ISBN: 9788193448533
Genre: Feminism
Pages: 68
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This is hands down one of the best books I have read this year. It is intricate, empathetic, gives a world view in its own manner, feisty, feminist, and above all makes you check your privilege, and look at the world differently.

Sangita Jogi’s mother Tejubehan is an artist herself and has been working with Tara books since a while now. Sangita Jogi brings her own style to the fore. “My women are modern” she says, which is seen beautifully in this book.

The book is divided into sections – modern women, women I could be, roaming the world, appearing in public, good times, and the world has progressed.

Through each section, Sangita Jogi most uniquely tells us about her life, her dreams, her aspirations, how she had to get married early – tradition being what it is, and how she manages to still draw and paint and be her own person.

I love the part when she speaks of her daughter and how she will not be who her mother is. She wants better for her daughter, which she intends to give.

“The Women I Could Be” shows you a different India – of women who have the same dreams and ambitions – yet give in to circumstances and even then, dare to be who they want to. Jogi’s art is stunning, liberating, and makes you want to have it all. I was stumped looking at it and kept coming back to it again and again.

The text is sparse, honest, and hard-hitting. She admits to only wanting to draw modern women – they make her dream big and think even bigger. I guess that’s the power of imagination. Jogi’s women are feisty and fantabulous. Through her art we see how they only want to have fun and be themselves. Through her art, we get a glimpse of the person she is and one can do nothing but applaud her talent and what she stands for.

Read 236 of 2021. Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories by Lily King

Five Tuesdyas in Winter - Stories by Lily King

Title: Five Tuesdays in Winter: Stories
Author: Lily King
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-1529086485
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 240
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I love short stories and this collection was no exception. I had read Writers & Lovers sometime last year and remember enjoying it a lot. Lily King’s writing is so precise and sharp, that every page shines with clarity of thought and emotion. Even so some stories are weaker than the others, but you tend to ignore them as a reader because the overall collection works for you.

The writing is tender and beautiful. She writes about big themes and spaces – complicated relationships between parents and children, former colleagues, a coming out story, marriages that do not work, and to most specifically focus on feelings in almost every story makes you marvel at the skill of also not meandering and not being too melodramatic, where it could have gone that way.

There are stories that are also dark, but they are made up for stories that offer moments of sweetness and generosity of emotions. The title story is about a jilted spouse left with an only child. A bookseller whose wife left him years ago and now he doesn’t know what to do with all his emotions and his preteen daughter trying to fill the void in his life.

Lily King’s stories are all about human feeling – they cover the entire range of emotions and do not make you choose any as a reader. For me, each was told with a different tone – though the underlined broad strokes were the same – of hope, failure, success, and a chance at mending the broken.

Read 234 of 2021. Love and Fury by Samantha Silva

Love and Fury by Samantha Silva

Title: Love and Fury
Author: Samantha Silva
Publisher: Flatiron Books 
ISBN: 978-1250159113
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction 
Pages: 288 
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 4/5 

A novel about Mary Wollstonecraft is always going to get my attention. Always. Mary Wollstonecraft has always been a favourite of mine – I think the sheer verve and joy with which she lived her life, despite the hardships and a long struggle fighting for women’s rights, is what captivated me toward her way of living.

Love and Fury by Samantha Silva opens at the end of Wollstonecraft’s life, as she is about to give birth to the infant who will become Mary Shelley. The book is told in alternate chapters. One by Wollstonecraft speaking to her daughter, charting her life for her. The other is told through Mrs B’s perspective and also about her life being a midwife.

Two women from very different walks of life and how it all comes together in one book. I love the way this book is written, though it does get repetitive in some parts, and yet so fulfilling. Mary’s life however does take center-stage a lot more.

Silva’s writing is interesting, the characters are humane, the voice is empathetic, and more than anything else even though you are reading a historical novel, you feel that it could be set today and be relevant. It is sad but does hold some truth.

Love and Fury is literary, it is philosophical, it speaks of stories of people in the most unassuming manner – all of it through losses, loves, and keeps you hooked through and through.

 

Read 233 of 2021. The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Title: The Chosen and the Beautiful
Author: Nghi Vo
Publisher: Tordotcom
ISBN: 978-1250784780
Genre: Fantasy, Literary, LGBTQIA+
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Nghi Vo’s retelling of “The Great Gatsby” in my opinion is better than the original text. Don’t get me wrong. I loved and still love The Great Gatsby but this refreshing take, which in turn just becomes Vo’s original voice is fantastic, nothing short of spectacular.

Everything is there – the madness, the passion, the love, and it is brilliant, with Jay Gatsby being a bisexual vampire. I mean, WHOA, right? I mean, WTF, isn’t it? But it is what it is and Vo has us enter her world and hold us there from the first page on.

There are black arts added to the story. Nick is no longer a part of it. We have Jordan Baker, a Vietnamese American, an orphan, raised by an American family, telling the tale.

There is queer-phobia and racism that isn’t hidden. Vo has demolished The Great Gatsby and created something new of its rubble. I think this is also quite a homage to the classic. At the same time, it is unique, has a voice of its own, and stands out on every single page.

The Chosen and the Beautiful speaks of class, racism, sexual aggression, and power like the classic did not. It is political and that’s how it should be, in my opinion.

Things are magical and so is the writing. Vo’s descriptions made me turn those pages again and reread just to soak in the language. Jordan’s relationship with Daisy and Tom is another matter altogether. It is fluid, caustic, and extremely toxic.

Vo’s writing is marvellous. You don’t get the time to breathe. You are gasping for air and yet want to turn those pages as quickly as ever.

Read 229 of 2021. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

9781529077506

Title: To Paradise
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-1529077476
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 720
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

To Paradise isn’t A Little Life. It will not break your heart. It will not make you cry. It will not torment you days after you finish it. It will not haunt you or your memories. It is not that kind of a book. But what it is – for its writing, multiple plots, characters that are engaging and well-fleshed out, it is about family and relationships and how we are forever stuck or not with them, it is about inheritance, and passion, love and lack of it, and more so about Hawai’i.

It is not The People in the Trees, yet there is enough science for people who loved that one. It isn’t what you think it is – even though the blurb is given, and you think you know what this book is about, but you do not. To Paradise is nothing like I have read this year, and this is what I expect of Yanagihara.

To Paradise is divided into three parts and each part feels like a different novel. I failed to see the larger connect and that to me is alright, because I will reread it and see where I missed out. The first story is set in an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is a part of the Free States where anyone can do what they please, love and marry whoever they want – it all seems very idyllic. The nubile and young scion of a very distinguished family David is smitten by a music teacher Edward, who has nothing to show for, when he is almost betrothed to a wealthy suitor Charles, way older than him and perhaps incapable of understanding him. Yanagihara’s characters take time to grow and for readers to even get to know them. It is almost a slow-burn of a novel in that sense.

The second part of the novel plays out in 1993 Manhattan with the AIDS epidemic taking more lives by the minute. This part of the novel looks at the relationship of a son and father, both Davids this time. The son, David is living with his older and richer lover Charles and the father is combating a serious illness, contemplating on life – past and present through a series of monologues. This by far was my favourite section of the novel. Yanagihara writes prose like no other. Even though like I said this book isn’t traumatic, it has its moments of melancholy, grief, and loss.

The last part of the novel is set in a not-so-distant future where pandemics are a common thing and charts the relationship between a grandfather, Charles and his granddaughter Charlie. This is the part where science (as it played out beautifully in The People in the Trees) comes to fore along with questions of identity, climate change, and uncertainty.

The themes of the book are so large and interconnected that it makes you want to keep turning the pages. Love, loss, loneliness, the need for someone, shame, death and fear keep getting played out in several ways. The writing is taut and perfect. Not a beat is missed, and nothing is out of place. The book may seem chunky, but it is needed. Yanagihara works on details – this is the only way to get to know her characters and understand the world she creates.

To Paradise left me stumped as well in a lot of places – there are a lot of questions unanswered, too many loose ends that weren’t tied, too much left for assumption, but it is alright. I think some books are meant to be that way. I will most certainly reread it when it is officially out in January.