A new year and a whole new experience in reading to look forward to! I am not setting myself any reading targets, but hope to enjoy many new books by known authors and new authors and have enough good luck to hit on the good books more often than the not-so-good-ones. The bad ones I abandon, and this has not been happening so often in recent years.
So, I did not take any chances with the first book of the year – relying on an unread one from an established favorite – Kazuo Ishiguro. Never let me go is neither sci-fi, or futuristic, nor surreal – one cannot really slot it into any genre. But then that is Ishiguro – this gentle, simple love story has many layers and a dark side to it too! Its very different from his When we were orphans, which also I read recently. While both books revolve strongly around memory – what is remembered and what is forgotten – Never let me go looks at inevitable and imminent loss, while When we were orphans deals with a distantly remembered loss, that the protagonist lives with throughout his life. Both are beautifully written – but then there is a certain leisure to his style that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and you have to have the patience to wait for the many layers of the tale to come off gently, one by one!
The second book I finished this week is Mohsin Hamid’s ‘The reluctant fundamentalist’ which was made into a fairly successful movie by Mira Nair. It is probably the first time that I have read the book after seeing the movie – and I did so because I found the movie some what lacking and I had heard great things about the book. Also, his earlier book ‘Moth Smoke’ was really good. And I must admit that the book was far superior to the movie. The book draws out a greater empathy with the protagonist – a successful, US educated Pakistani executive in a US firm, whose self-introspection and self-doubts lead him back to his native country. And of course, it is linked to that defining moment in modern history – 9/11.
Just by coincidence, the other book I am reading (e-book) is also by a Pakistani writer – there is an amazing number of hugely talented writers from that country- ‘Burnt shadows’ by Kamila Shamsie. The burnt shadows refer to the scars of the nuclear holocaust of 1945. The early part of the story binds a Japanese woman who is a survivor of Nagasaki, a half-German man and a Indian Muslim who is forced to opt for Pakistan in 1947!! Will let you know more about it on next weeks post.