Tag Archives: translated

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame . Translated by Anne Ishii

51rq4hPobXL Title: My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Translated from the Japanese by
Publisher: Pantheon Graphic Novels
ISBN: 978-1101871515
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

“My Brother’s Husband” is a graceful manga by Gengoroh Tagame. It handles homosexuality, homophobia and xenophobia (to some extent) very tenderly and not once did I feel berated being a gay man or an insider looking out while reading this manga. Tagame tells the story of parents and in turn of children and how important it is for children to learn, believe and accept alternate sexualities. At the same time, this manga doesn’t get preachy at all. It doesn’t sermonize or ask you to change yourself. It provides different perspectives and that’s that to it.

Yaichi – a single Japanese dad is forced to confront his painful past when an affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan shows up at his door, declaring himself to be the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin Ryoji. Mike wants to explore Ryoji’s past, his family and his growing-up years. Yaichi takes him in reluctantly and thus begins a relationship of understanding, apprehension and fear not only between Mike and Yaichi but also between Mike and Yaichi’s young daughter, Kana. It is how Kana begins to question and understands Mike and at the same time Yaichi’s overcoming of homophobia is what the manga is all about.

Japan as a country is quite conservative when it comes to the question of homosexuals. It isn’t easy to talk about it in the open – more so in traditional societies of Japan. Maybe that is why this manga is needed now more than ever. Tagame explores each aspect – alienation, small incidents of homophobia, questions about the relationship that wasn’t mainstream and the differences of perception between the East and the West tenderly and with much insight.

There are multiple viewpoints, which is great because he then doesn’t give only one point of view and leave it at that. It also talks of how relationships can alter feelings and how life as it goes along, gives you the opportunity to keep embracing the new, no matter how different it might be. The story is beautiful and the characters are so well-rounded.

This book is definitely for those who want to understand what the LGBT people face, no matter how basic it seems in the book. This could however be the perfect guide and also not just for adults but children as well. “My Brother’s Husband” embraces differences and talks of cultural clashes at the same time. I cannot wait to read the second volume soon.

Book Review: The Elephant Keepers Children by Peter HØeg

Title: The Elephant Keepers’ Children
Author: Peter HØeg
Publisher: Harvill Secker
ISBN: 978-1-846-55585-5
Genre: Literary Fiction, Translated Works
Pages: 392
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Danish writer, Peter HØeg is well known for his book, “Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow” which has also been made to a critically acclaimed film. I have read the book twice and could not wait for his new book to release. “The Elephant Keeper’s Children” is nothing like Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow and that is what I loved about the writer when it came to this book. The book has everything – drama, humour, mystery, faith, odd-ball characters and coming-of-age plot as well.

Peter and Tilte are two kids who are trying to track down their parents, who are going to be a part of a big criminal activity. The problem is that their parents are already two criminals. They are the pastor and the organist of the only church on the tiny island of FinØ (fictional but of course). Their parents are known to fabricate miracles through science and engineering (ironical, isn’t it?), however this time the mischief is of a far greater scale. Their parents are a part of a huge conference to be taking place in Copenhagen – of which scientists and religious leaders are both a part. This is where the kids will find their parents. I will not give away the rest of the plot, as the title also is quite misleading and wraps itself towards the end of the book.

Amidst all the action are the secondary characters – that make up for most of the book and its excitement. There is an angry bishop, a deranged headmaster, two love-struck police officers, a deluded aristocrat, and many more along the way.

The book is eccentric, and not only when it comes to naming characters such as Svend Sewerman to Alexander Flounderblood, but also where the plot is concerned. There are so many twists and turns in the book that keep you hanging and wanting more, and that is what worked with me the most about the book.

The voice of Peter on the other hand is the star of the book. It reminded me of, “Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha”. Peter’s voice takes into account his perspective when he is growing up and adjusting to the world around him and at the same time trying to understand adults and their behaviour.

Peter HØeg’s writing has it all. This of course I say from experience, considering that I have read one book written by him. It is funny and dramatic in parts. The kids’ character sketches are drawn masterfully. The book is serene and moves at its own pace, evoking and pulling the reader inside. There is magical realism as well. So all in all, this book has everything in it. It is indeed magical to the core. I will recommend this book to one and all. A great place to start reading HØeg.

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Book Review: Gopallapuram by Ki Rajanarayanan

Title: Gopallapuram
Author: Ki Rajanarayanan
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 9780143067757
Genre: Indian Literature
Pages: 144 pages
Price: Rs. 199
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Gopallapuram takes you places you never imagined you could go to. The short vignettes in this wondrous book teach you about humans – the experience through a few characters living in a village, like most villages, unknown to civilization. I had not heard of Gopallapuram, the book before stumbling on to it at the Penguin India website and come to think of it, it is a contemporary classic. I am very glad that Penguin is taking the step to publish translated works and make readers aware of what gems do we have in our trove of Indian Literature.

Gopallapuram is a tough one to write a review of and not because of anything else, but because of the way the stories are layered. The people and their pathos can be felt through the pages of this book. The stories while holding your attention also make you think a lot. For instance, what about the highway robber who murders the pregnant woman for her jewellery? Does he have a family somewhere as well?

Or the fact that a group of people can come together to transform a barren land to a blooming village – I mean who can even think of writing something like this. It is then no wonder that he won the Sahitya Akademi Award as well.
To me Gopallapuram was a revelation. Almost something that was unexpected and hit me from the blue. I love that when books do that you. The ability to take you to lands and times forgotten.

Ki Rajanarayanan has the unique ability to make the reader feel emotive even towards his so-called anti-heroes. There are only shades of grey to his writing, which in effect is brilliant as it gives the reader the opportunity to think and ponder.

There Was No One at the Bus Stop by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay

There is this thing I have discovered for Bengali Novelists off  late –  from Buddhadeva Bose to Dibyendu Palit to Sirshendu  Mukhopadhyay. The theme that runs in these novels is similar: that of the loneliness and emptiness that arises from extra-marital affairs and sometimes the unknowing joy it provides.

Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay is a contemporary Bengali novelist who writes about people in circumstances – their emotions, their decisions and their lives surrouding the decisions they have made. The protagonist of the book, “There Was No One at the Bus Stop” is Trina – wallowing in her loneliness that gnaws at her. She has poetry to depend on the melancholy that surrounds her. Her husband has distanced himself from her and so have her children and amidst all this she meets Debashish – who is haunted by his wife’s suicide and cannot seem to tear himself away from it. His young son would rather live with his aunt.

The circumstances are such and they meet. They fall in love or so they think. Bonds are not easy to severe, no matter how much one wants to. I loved the writing. It had me gripped from the first sentence, though I wish I were able to read it in Bengali – the language in which it was meant to be read. And yet Arunava Sinha has beautifully translated this book.

The prose is minimal. The emotions are well drawn in the book. Characters are loose  and yet the book manages to reveal feelings over twelve hours in a single day. The complexities of relationships – what holds them and what eventually breaks them apart.

There was no one at the Bus Stop; Mukhopadhyay, Sirshendu; Penguin India; Translated by Arunava Sinha; PP: 121; Rs. 150