Kanchan was impressed by Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. This dystopian novel tackles the refugee crises and tells the tale of how love finds doors even when people are desensitized to strife. Kanchan remembered only Nadia and referred to Saeed as the other person. Kanchan observed how Nadia was no traditionalist but wore the burkha as she used those parts of the culture which kept her safe. Here’s a snippet that shows how Hamid uses beautiful prose to deal with such pressing issues.
“Perhaps they had decided they did not have it in them to do what would have needed to be done, to corral and bloody and where necessary slaughter the migrants, and had determined that some other way would have to be found. Perhaps they had grasped that the doors could not be closed, and new doors would continue to open, and they had understood that the denial of coexistence would have required one party to cease to exist, and the extinguishing party too would have been transformed in the process, and too many native parents would not after have been able to look their children in the eye, to speak with head held high of what their generation had done.”
If the book interests you, you may find this interview of the author interesting.
Pratibha talked about an interesting story (a comedy-drama) called The Women’s Balcony set in Tel Aviv. The story begins at a Bar Mitzvah in a synagogue where the woman’s seating spot, which is the balcony, collapses. This leads to utter chaos and attempts to rebuild the space are thwarted. The story touches on sexuality, casual sexism, religion, radicalization, etc.
Dhwani talked about a bestselling memoir called Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. The author reminisces on her unique childhood set in Africa (in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia) with a humorous and compelling voice. Her father was part of the white government while her mother immersed herself in the pulsating life around her. The story is about a family’s love for Africa and yet Fuller traces the reasons for this as partly being the idea of superiority that white people exercised in Africa at the time. Fuller puts her powerful observation skills into overdrive as she describes the way people lived there. Dhwani described how unsafe it was at the time and how children were advised never to wake their parents at night since they were armed (owing to the Rhodesian Bush War) and could shoot them by accident.
The cover interested the readers at the party and conversation veered around to how women are often shown without their heads, the focus zooming elsewhere. More on the Headless Woman Project @ Scroll.
And we that, we come to the end of the BYOB Party in March 2018.
I had read an article recently about the secret appeal to teenagers that lies in George Orwell’s dystopia 1984 and sure enough Orwell was not excluded from this gathering. Animal Farm that describes the secret ministrations of hierarchy was mentioned. “It’s not just a parody of communism, but a parody of any system, even the corporate world.”
Ramya, an ardent Sidney Sheldon fan, talked about If tomorrow comes, Tell me your dreams and Master of the game. What the students surmised from reading these books was that the books revolved around a central female and ideas about the inherent power struggle in a man’s world remains a relevant topic even today. Turns out adolescents like dark fiction. You can read more about this here: http://time.com/3697845/if-i-stay-gayle-forman-young-adult-i-was-here/
If there is a Sidney Sheldon, then a discussion about Jeffrey Archer cannot be far behind. The all time favorite seemed to be Kane and Abel and The Prodigal Daughter. Dan Brown was another favorite, with students heatedly arguing over whether Inferno had the edge over Da Vinci Code. Incidentally, there is an illustrated version of Da Vinci Code as well.