Book Review: Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

It was then that I realised I was old enough to know fairy tales were not true

61oAnsSzm0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, and hailed as one of the most anticipated novel of the year, Anuradha Roy’s “Sleeping On Jupiter” disappoints on many levels.

The story runs a number of parallel tracks, primarily with Nomita Frederikson, who visits a holy town called Jarmuli in search of her buried past and coming to terms with her childhood which haunts her in an attempt to sort out the fact from fiction. Suraj, her work partner who’s also dealing with life’s issue and who looks lost throughout the novel. Then there are 3 senior women who travels together for the first and probably the last time together. Also playing a part is temple guide Badal, who’s ill fated and torrid affair with Raghu forms another sub-plot. Tea stall owner Johnny Toppo, who sings a mysterious folk song and vehemently refuses to revisit his past.

The book tries to do too much in too little. Some of the character build-ups are good, especially the central character of Nomi. While others seem as lost as their lives. The book is at times directionless with the reader having no clue about who to connect with and what.Although some of the passages are brilliant, overall it failed to excite me. The author, it seemed had very little plot to develop this into a full fledged novel.

Maybe I would have been less disappointed if I had picked this book up randomly. But with the expectations I had from this one it was certainly not more worth than 2 Stars!

Book Review: A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

The sea was as dark as dreams and as deep as sleep

Have you read a book that calms you down? That soothes your soul? That which flows on its own, and before you know it you start wishing it would never end..

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“A Strangeness in My Mind” is one such novel. A novel of epic proportions, this is Orhan Pamuk at his best. The “strangeness” about this novel is that throughout its vast scope of literary genius nothing of significance happens. Yet it draws you in and relaxes you, like only good books can.

The central character of this book is Mevlut, a poor “Boza” seller in the streets of Istanbul. Struggling to adapt to a fast changing city Mevlut keeps on hoping for a better tomorrow even in all his failures. The book captures all his hopes, aspirations and failures beautifully. The love he has for the city is almost a touch autobiographical from the author. If you loved Pamuk’s “Istanbul” then this book is definitely for you. Slowly and slowly you would start falling in love with this grand old city.

At the heart of this novel is a love story. Of Mevlut and his wife Rayiha. Of Mevlut and his craft. Of Mevlut and his city. A man fiercely protecting his fast dying craft of Boza selling. A man loving his wife to the last day. A man discovering his city through all his life’s joy and despair.

In a city you can be alone in a crowd,and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes

The book is also more than just about a Boza seller. There are so many voices in this novel. This style of writing is unique where many people involved in Mevlut’s life share their own story, in their own voices.

As the book grows on you, every trivial detail of this man’s life seem important. And then you come to realise how the uneventful things in our life means the most to us and our loved ones. Mevlut is a failure by society’s standards in a thriving city. But he never moans this and neither the author. He is average and honest, and he thrives in that.

The book sails you through a city. Through Mevlut and his life and love. And as he keeps on searching for a meaning to his “strangeness” in an endless sea of possibilities; you might just stop and reflect back on your own life. In all its glories and defeats.

This is probably the best work of Orhan Pamuk yet. It stays with you long after you have read the last page. So much so that long after it ends, you might just hear the Boza seller crying out, “Bozaaaaa, Good Bozaaa”