Peace and Post Offices @ BYOB Party in July 2017 (Part 6)

Apurba indulged in poetry with the book The Country without a Post Office by Agha Shahid Ali. This Kashmiri American poet was the recipient of the Guggenheim and Ingram-Merrill fellowships and a Pushcart Prize, and his collection Rooms Are Never Finished was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. His poetry collection is a haunting inditement of the plight of what he remembers as home, a desolation called peace. Apurba also cited an essay by Amitav Ghosh, a touching tribute to the poet, something you must bookmark and take the time to read for the sheer beauty of the person the words pay tribute to and the words themselves.

                                            They make a desolation and call it peace.

when you left even the stones were buried:

the defenceless would have no weapons.

 

When the ibex rubs itself against the rocks,

who collects its fallen fleece from the slopes?

O Weaver whose seams perfectly vanished,

who weighs the hairs on the jeweller’s balance?

They make a desolation and call it peace.

Who is the guardian tonight of the Gates of Paradise?

 

My memory is again in the way of your history.

Army convoys all night like desert caravans:

In the smoking oil of dimmed headlights, time dissolved- all

winter- its crushed fennel.

We can’t ask them: Are you done with the world?

Other books that deal with conflict that were mentioned were Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer, Our Moon has Blood Clots and Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita, Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island and Joe Sacco’s graphic novel Gorazde.

Conflict zones tell the same story world over.

Short Book Review: The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh

 Circle Of ReasonSBR: I picked up The Circle of Reason without knowing that I was getting into magical realism. Magical realism, for the uninitiated in simple words, is a genre that combines fantastic and real worlds and goes on as if it is all normal. There won’t be an explanation of the “magical” parts.
In the book the real part is realistic enough. The friendship of college days that lasts even through the subsequent divergence in personalities, views and lifestyle decisions, the phrenology obsessed middle-aged teacher in a quaint Bengal village constituting mostly of refugees from East Bengal, the tragic culmination of paranoid politics and individual madness and a bird-watcher police officer thrown in the chase owing to some complicated turn of office politics make for a strong story. Then the magical elements become more prominent and although I follow the rest of the story, I don’t quite get the point. Since I haven’t read the seminal works of magical realism like One Hundred Years of Solitude by  Gabriel García Márquez or those by Salman Rushdie, I am not sure what to compare it with. Perhaps I will return to this book after I have read some of those.
To read or not to read: If, like me, you are not into the magical realism genre yet, you probably don’t want to start with this book and instead pick up something more widely talked about. If you have read some of those, it might be worthwhile giving this book a try. If you just want to read Amitav Ghosh as an author, I would suggest The Shadow Lines. I am not too fond of his Ibis trilogy, but that has a fan following. So that can also be a good starting point.