The Idiot by Elif Batuman

2774F1A1-1DCD-4105-B865-87CE624B2734Here’s my attempt at penning down a review for The Idiot, having now had some time away from the book. I found The Idiot wholly original, thwarting traditional narrative techniques and feigning all importance to the plot, twist or thrill. It’s a story that acutely captures the ordinary mundanities and absurdities of life in sharp relief while still managing to stay engaging and entertaining for almost 500 pages. We follow Selin, an 18-year-old, born to Turkish-American immigrants, for the first year of her university life in Harvard and a summer spent volunteering in Hungary. Continue reading

A wonderfully odd coming of age story

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This was one of those quietly, brilliant coming-of-age novels that just snuck up on me and completely enamoured me. Set in a remote Scottish island, the novel follows two young girls,  socially adept Lorrie and painfully shy Sylvie as they navigate the pressures of growing up in this intimately small town where everyone knows everyone. Angela Readman creates a beautifully nuanced portrait of girlhood and friendship, Continue reading

Normal People by Sally Rooney

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Normal People at its core is an intimate, emotional and complex relationship between Marianne and Connell that sinusoids between romantic and platonic, truthful and manipulative. While I certainly liked how realistic the portrayal of ‘modern love’ is, I found it increasingly cumbersome to read as it progressed. Connell and Marianne are almost like magnets, their opposite poles aligned at times and experiencing this subliminal, unrestrained, ferocious attraction and at other times almost repelling each other with equal force. As a reader, your caught in between these extremes and you unravel this incredibly complex, often unpredictable, intimate yet turbulent relationship. As this novel progresses, it increasingly read like an elaborate ceremonial dance of egos, of unsaid communication having far-reaching consequences, and at times I just couldn’t see the sense in their actions/decisions.
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I’ve read reviews where the writing style has been criticized. On that note, however, I disagree. Rooney’s writing is sparse, and I thought it was beautifully done. It’s sharp, incisive almost, without a single word being wasted. To sum things up, for me, it was an okay read. The character study, which started really strong, somewhere lost it’s footing, stumbling & getting a little too embroiled into the character’s messy lives. I began to lose interest. As I read, I kept flipping back to see how many pages were left to read. Make of that, what you will.
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I’m still curious to try Conversations with Friends, though I’m in no real rush.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

fullsizeoutput_4cdf.jpegCategory: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Author: Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is the story of a young woman who leads a life of extreme seclusion and a chance encounter in helping an elderly gentleman on the road sets off a series of events that allow her to come undone and eventually, exorcise the demons of her past. My reaction, to some extent was also coloured by the context in which read this book, as a nomination for a literary prize. Continue reading

The Word for Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

IMG_0056Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Author: Abi Andrews

This is a very tricky one to write a review for as my overall experience was rather conflicting. This novel is part adventure, part travel writing, part philosophical musings, part coming-of-age and rediscovery, speckled with feminist ideals, the myth and beliefs of the Native Peoples of North America and vilifying of patriarchy and it’s societal repercussions. That’s a handful. And it works to the advantage and disadvantage of this novel. It’s far too ambitious, with too many ideas, that none of the ideas felt fully realised.  Continue reading

Snow in May by Kseniya Melnik

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACategory: Short Stories, Realist stories
Rating: 4/5
Cultural: Russia
Author: Kseniya Melnik

This realist short story collection turned out to be such a pleasant surprise! Snow in May is a collection of stories set in and around the Siberian port town of Magadan situated closer to Alaska than to any other major Russian city. Despite a bustling hub, Magadan has a dark and tumultuous past, as it was once a gateway to the Gulag network, Stalin’s cruelest labour camps and stories resonate with a tinge of the town’s dark past.

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