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A Tale for the Time Being | Book Review

This is a review of the book A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. She’s a Japanese- American author, and I don’t think this is her first book.This is the first book of hers that I’m reading or that I’ve even heard of, actually and I really loved it. I gave it five stars, in fact.

I’m not sure if I will read the rest of her books with a dedicated vengeance the way that I usually do though, because I have bought a lot of books that I haven’t gotten round to reading, and I keep buying new books that I hear good things about, on my Kindle and online, in addition to going on huge splurgey shopping trips at least once in a few months. It’s these books that are just sitting on my shelves and I have to read those before I even think of buying another book. I’m serious. I don’t think I’ll buy more books till New Year’s. Yikes, book buying ban! Wish me luck, eh?
I bought this book on a whim because it said that it contained the journal of a girl called Nao on the back and I am a sucker for books that are in the journal format.
Incidentally, this book was nothing like a regular journal. It was the journal of a teenager named Nao living in Japan, first and foremost, but it was also the story of a woman called Ruth living in a remote island in Canada. So, Ruth is a writer with extreme writer’s block who chances upon Nao’s journal under mysterious circumstances. She starts reading it and we see aspects of her life and her reactions to the journal, and her inter-personal relationships, in addition to Nao’s story. Nao’s story is told in the first person whereas Ruth’s is in the third person, which is all done very masterfully.
Another thing that I really like is that Nao’s journal is in English since she used to live in America but there are bits of Kanji in it,as well as things about Japan and Japanese culture and Ruth is also Japanese-American so she understands some of it, and looks up the rest and footnotes Nao’s journal with her understanding. I really appreciated the fact that we could actually see these footnotes in Ruth’s words, throughout Nao’s journal. I don’t know why, but that was a nice touch.
So, this book was a sort of coming of age story, and it also has elements of magical realism in it. I enjoyed both, even though the magical realism thing was a bit over the top, I thought. Luckily, it happened not to take away from the rest of the story for me. It dealt with sensitive topics like bullying, suicide, prostitution, etc.
This is a book I’d like to recommend to anyone who had a troubled childhood, to anyone with a great imagination, to anyone with writer’s block, and honestly anyone who wants to read a unique book that’s a game-changer in my opinion.

Also, I’m very proud to announce that this blog post was written on Scrivener, which I bought recently. 😀 I loooove it.

Anyway, that’s it for now. ^_^



Oh, do hunt me down on other social media. I’m fun and clever on those as well.

Twitter: @sindrao22
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30 Day Book Challenge– Day 5 | A Book That Makes you Happy

The unwavering, resounding answer to this one is Abundance Of Katherines by John Green.  🙂 It is his first book, and it is adorable, hilarious and life-affirming. And it’s intelligent. I do so love a book that’s light and happy, but still clever. You know? I know you know. Definitely read it. Preferrably now. Go go go.

I’m not able to be creative today because I had a pretty rubbish day and I also finished A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (review coming up soon!) and it’s a brilliant, honest and kinda soul-crushing. Read that as well. This book does not deserve mention in a post about happy books! But it was amazing and thought-provoking and I’m so glad to have read it. 🙂

I am going to take a warm bath, hug a soft toy, and go to sleep now, but I will do it while being wiser than I was when I woke up this morning and thankful for the bed itself among other things.


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Past Continuous | Book Review

I’ve only read two books so far this month, and that’s quite slow by my standards. The worst part is, I’ve read so little despite having a lot of time because I’ve spent a lot of time on Youtube trying to work up the courage to start making videos of my own.

I’ve just finished Past Continuous by Neel Mukherjee and it’s left me quite unhappy, not because it isn’t good, but because it’s disturbing. Which obviously means that I loved it! I will post a review, or try to, because I have no idea how to dissect this book, and it is a book which requires a lot of dissection.

For starters, it tells two stories, one of the main character Ritwik, reading English literature in England and the other, the story of a British lady in Colonial India in the 1890’s, which Ritwik is writing. This book terrified me because the tool employed was that of the ‘unreliable narrator’ because the life Ritwik is leading has strange echoes from the novel he’s writing. Their stories intertwine in mind-boggling ways which make you question Ritwik’s reality, which the author has no trouble whatsoever in convincing the reader to accept as her own reality too. That effect is disquieting, to say the least.

Additionally, this book also deals with themes of child abuse, the effects of growing up in poverty, sexual abuse, etc. But that’s not the main reason I wanted to read this book. I’ve owned this book for about a year already, and I’d bought it on a whim without knowing anything about it.

It was not on my original TBR list for this month, as you’d know if you’ve seen that post. And then I read an excerpt of an interview of the author (Who’s just been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his second book, The Lives of Others. Yes, I own that one as well) and I discovered a crucial fact: The protagonist Ritwik Ghosh is gay. I am a huge LGBTQ supporter and I feel like gay protagonists are hugely under-represented in literature, especially in Indian literature, but in general too. I wanted to see how Neel Mukherjee manages his representation, so I picked up this book, off-schedule, since it still went with my Indian authors theme for the month.

After reading the book, I found the fact that the novel wasn’t about his homosexuality pretty refreshing. I feel like gay(or bisexual or lesbian or transgender) persons can’t be seen to be accepted as such if their sexuality continues to be the main ‘theme’ of any pop-culture of which they are a part. I feel like this dehumanises us somehow. On the other hand, Ritwik is depicted as a person with very real struggles, ideas, needs, distinct from being gay. I love that. Despite this, it still made a reasonably accurate representation of the furtive struggles and fears of a closeted gay man trying to find a sexual partner in the 1990’s in England.

However, this aspect isn’t the focus of this novel. The focus of the novel of Ritwik’s journey into life as an illegal immigrant from being a scholarship English Literature student. It’s about his relationship with his dead mother who still haunts his thoughts with the burden of her all-consuming, dependent love which leads her to become abusive. It’s about his frustration at the seeming opacity of the character of the protagonist in his novel, which is a frustration everyone who writes knows so very well. It’s about his friendships with people, which are necessarily transient due to his illegal immigrant status.

Ritwik, in my opinion, is one of the most real, most relatable, yet complicated characters I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. He’s a character I’d be proud to have written. I dream of writing about a contradictory character like him all the time, but I’m too scared to because I feel like I may step into the realms of the absurd.

I almost gave this book five stars of Goodreads, but I haven’t because of a couple of loose ends, including a couple of characters on whom I didn’t get enough closure. The novel doesn’t aim at closure, of course, quite the opposite, but the author’s treatment of a couple of characters, like Aritra, Ritwik’s brother was just not believable to me. I don’t want to give anything else away so I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

I’ll think about this book and about Ritwik for a long time yet. I feel like my review didn’t do justice to all of the various layers in this book, but I could write a thesis on it if I tried, and this isn’t the appropriate forum to post that!

I’ll stop here, hoping that I piqued the interests of at least one person to read it!

That’s all I guess.