Showing posts from 2009
The Palace of IllusionsChitra Banerjee DivakaruniCan there ever be a boring telling of the Mahabharata? Rajaji’s version was my introduction to the epic. I have spent innumerable childhood hours reading and re-reading it and then you grow up with these images in your head – the heroic Arjuna, the doomed Karna, the wicked Duryodhana, the wise and righteous Bheeshma, the sly Sakuni, the beautiful and proud Draupadi, the playful and wily Krishna… You have arguments in your head whether Arjuna deserved to kill Karna, whether the Pandavas deserved the kingdom, whether Krishna’s partiality was justified…It is not a clean story, not a classic case of the good winning over evil. There are far too many ambiguities, too many heroes on the losing side, too many lies and half-truths on the winning one. Victory at the end is not an unalloyed triumph and revenge does have more than a taste of the bitter. Which is what makes it such a fabulous source for re-telling. Chitra Banerjee attempts one such…

By Raymond Carver

My first Carver is a set of short stories. Immaculate cameos, not traditional stories with beginnings, middles and twisty ends, these are almost still life pictures in word form. Scenes assembled in front of you carefully and meticulously, almost poetically. Carver is after all, also a poet.

There are a lot of drunks fighting addiction, in rehab and out of it, the women who love them and the women in whom there is no love left; there is looking for love, love dying, love dead; there is ‘a small, good thing in a time like this’ – freshly baked bread in a time of grief; stories of hope and slow revival, stories of moving on and help for moving on; stories of hopeless despair where ‘dreams are what you wake up from’. And then there is ‘Cathedral’, a wonderful beautiful story of a man describing a cathedral to a blind man by guiding his hand as he draws it out for him – an act that offers as much to the sighted person as it does to the blind man. Sheer poetry.


Kafka On The Shore

Haruki Murakami
A teenage boy Kafka Tamura, runs away from home and his father, possibly in search of his mother who ran away with his sister when he was four. In his mind, there is a chilling oedipal prophecy that his father made – that he would one day kill his father and sleep with his mother. The reader travels with Kafka on his journey where he encounters a girl who could probably be his sister, a woman who could probably be his mother and a cross-dressing librarian who becomes his friend and ally. Kafka’s story is interspersed with that of an old man, Nakata, who in his childhood had a possible extra-terrestrial experience that left him retarded, but with an ability to speak to cats. Nakata too has set out on a journey, after he kills a cat killer, Kafka’s father. Nakata and Kafka’s journeys converge, of course. The prophecy seemingly comes true with the strange connection between Nakata and Kafka. There is a possible spirit world that Kafka visits and Nakata is…