Sea of Stories and Golden Gate Verse@BYOB Party in May, 2016 (Part 1)

There was a nice spread of books at the BYOB Party in May.

Haroun_and_the_Sea_of_Stories_(book_cover)Akshay talked about Rushdie’s magical realism in Haroun and the Sea of Stories. To enjoy Rushdie’s writing a minimal understanding of political and social realities is a must.  He uses magical realism to present controversial ideas. “There was a wave of magical realism in India in the 80s and 90s,” Abhaya said. “Rushdie was for magical realism the way Chetan Bhagat was for the campus novel. He started a trend and he was by far the most successful.”

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is about a professional storyteller called Rashid who lives in the saddest of cities. There are a great many stories and diverse characters. For lovers of this genre, the book is a treat.


the golden gateVishal found Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate riveting. It’s a book written entirely in verse- 690 sonnets, in fact, with the rhyming scheme a-b-a-b-c-c-d-d-e-f-f-e-g-g. The story revolves around John, a Silicon Valley exec; Janet, an artist and musician; Ed, a character confused by religion; and Phil, a scientist. The story deals with love, homosexuality, antinuclear protests, and don’t forget personal ads- one of which Vishal read out.

Vishal gifted the book to a friend who was leaving to San Francisco. In fact, the book resonates more with those who  live in that part of the world. Jaya found the verses a little hard to digest and an idea popped up about whether a prose version of the book would make the book more appealing to those who could not read the entire book in verse.

Books in verse are not new. The epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayan, the Illiad and Odyssey and many others are all originally verse. Reading the poetry version is always better than reading the prosaic version, some readers opined. Metaphorical meanings will be lost otherwise. Another book by Vikram Seth that reflects  his expertise poetry is An Equal Music, not to mention the Table of contents in verse form in A Suitable Boy.

More books in Part 2.

Kaizen, Suitable Boys and Stories of Sikkim @ BYOB Party in April (Part 3)

Have you read Parts 1 and 2 yet?

One-Small-Step-Can-Change-Your-Life-The-Kaizen-Way-by-Robert-Maurer-Ph.DOne Small Step can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer is the book Himanshu Shah, an author himself, talked about. This book deals with the concept kaizen- the art of making  lasting change by taking small steps towards that direction. The book helps in all areas including getting fit or gaining vocabulary. The seven steps include Think Small Thoughts, Take Small Actions, Solve Small Problems, etc.
Vinod Pathangay got the book A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. This enormous tome still awaits a sequel ‘A Suitable Girl’, on which Seth is still working. For Vinod the book has been a challenge as he hasn’t managed to complete it; yet the depiction of life in the northern part of India holds great appeal for this Chennaite. “Even the Table of contents of the book is a poem,” he said when describing why the book appealed to him. The problem with the book is the elaborate genealogy which forces you to reread the family connections before the book so that you understand the plot better. The story primarily revolves around how Lata tries to find a suitable match. The era the book is set in is the 1950s and deals with the multitude of prejudices and etiquette of Indian society.

Jaya was fascinated by The King’s Harvest by Chethan Raj Shrestha. She speaks about the book in her Short Book Review at Worth a Read Blog. Here’s an excerpt:

The book contains two novellas An Open-and-Shut Case and the eponymous The King’s Harvest. Don’t look at the hype and the sales numbers and this is easily one of the best English-language books to come out of India. The writing is adroit, literary merit of the text considerable and the juxtaposition of the dark and the criminal with the innocent and the straightforward is hair-raising and heart-tugging at the same time. The vivid elucidation of not just what is picturesque about Sikkim, but also of its towns and villages, police stations and homes, people and their ambiguous characters and moralities is the cherry on the top. While it is unambiguously a “book from Sikkim”, the last one makes it relatable to all, especially those who have grown up in small places.

You can read and understand the stories in many ways. Since that is one of the charms of the books, I am not going to tell you what all I read in the book. I must confess I felt overwhelmed at times. But you must read it and decide for yourself!

The hardcover edition that I read has also been produced beautifully. The cover is bewitchingly beautiful and interiors are well-done too.” You can read more here.

More books shared at the BYOB Party next week.