I wonder if I am slightly partial to books from eastern cultures.
No – not entirely true , I think I love books from cultures I would like to know more about.The more I don’t know about a culture, the more it intrigues me ! And I like stories that take me across time and span a few generations.
So, I have read a fair few books emanating from Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Japan, Pakistan, Iran.
I absolutely loved a book called Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
It is a powerful and deeply moving book about a family in Palestine. The book follows the lives of a Palestinian family across 4 generations.
The narrative opens in Palestine in a small village called Ein Hod. The year is 1941.
It’s a simple time of harvests , olive groves , hot afternoons, shared meals , young love and hope.
The life of one family is disrupted due to the Jewish invasion and they are sent to live in a refugee camp in Jenin.
The main character Amal – a young Palestinian girl describes the days in the refugee camp , watching in distress their land being ravaged and taken over – yet living in hope and the belief that they will return to their ancestral village and life will return to normal.
I loved how the author has narrated the story and the detailed prose helped me create in my mind the village , the characters and the deep sorrow and tragedy of losing land and history and loved ones.
The story weaves intricately across borders , across generations and across history. It is a fresh perspective on one of the most complex political conflicts of our time !
Here I am , carried away !
I was going to write about Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland
OK- I picked up this book during my last visit to India. Not because Jhumpa Lahiri is a renowned author but simply because while browsing, the excerpt of the book got me.
The book is based in the Calcutta ( West Bengal-India) of the 1960s. It is a story about two brothers,their childhood in Calcutta and the involvement of one of the brothers in the Naxalite movement.
I’ve lived in West Bengal during my childhood and off course at the time was quite young to understand communism and the movement. All I knew was that ever so often, there would be some protests and rallies and our school would be “bandh”- closed for the day and that’s all that mattered 🙂 ( especially on days I had needle work and craft- both of which I detested)
So- to lay my hands on a fictional book based around the naxalite movement was irresistible to me.
And off course, there’s a love story and the book weaves in and out of places.
The pace and the changing scenes kept me turning the pages though at times, the book got just too heavy and despondent and I had to keep it away.
If you are curious and want to know more about the the communist movement in India, the repercussions and impacts on personal lives – this is a good read.
If you are the kind to avoid anything too serious- give it a miss.