Category Archives: Book reviews

The Picture of Dorian Gray

This book is truly representative of dystopia, not just of the protagonist Dorian Gray, a young man from London whose life is marred by his actions- or what art has made him do. His portrait painted by Basil Hallward the painter has caused Gray to be obsessed with self-love and made him a slave of his senses. He tries his best to be good but the novel is written to give no room for virtuous behavior. Lord Henry is my favorite character, especially because of his epigrams. They moved me and made me fall for his tricks. There is verity in some and falsity in some others. I do not completely agree with what Lord Henry proposes every time but I will say this- he is a master schmoozer. He just knows how to captivate his listeners- be it an official event or an informal party. He is the one who considers Dorian’s youth as his greatest asset and thinks that he should always remain as such and never change. The plot of the novel turns out to be morbid in the middle and the actions of Gray haunt him and his picture, even more.

Wilde describes beauty beautifully; he is a master writer and knows just the way to write to keep the pages turning for his readers. I took a long time reading this book than usual because I loved it so much that I wanted to absorb every piece of information in those pages. It was simple something that you don’t read every day- this is a special one so save it for some occasion. The book makes the men and the men make the book; at least this is true for the most part. It seriously makes me think that in the age the book was written, it was a bold attempt by Oscar Wilde to let out such strong feelings between friends who are men.

The description of the painting by Basil Hallward is such a wonder in itself- I read the melody in Wilde’s writing. It makes us miss life in 1890 when the characters lived. It is truly an age you want to be in at least to enjoy the enchanting parties and charming people described by Wilde. The climax of the novel is morbid again but a justification was beautifully provided so there’s no need to worry if you are a stern moralist.  I am surprised that this is the only novel Mr Wilde had authored; I seriously wish he were alive.  I won’t say more about the novel, read it yourself and get carried away to another age.

The Inheritance of Loss

Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss” is an interesting work clearly showing the author’s flair for writing. She describes Indian and American stereotypes perfectly and with great detail too. She concerns the characters in her novel with troubling events that take place in the lush green nature-blessed Kalimpong along the Teesta River in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. As the plot progresses, Kalimpong transforms from being a beautiful nature-lover’s haven to a ghost town that is destroyed due to riots instigated by the extremist GNLF fighting for Gorkhaland. She contrasts the life in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong and bustling New York city, which may have had an influence on Desai.

Desai is a good storyteller who mesmerizes the reader with verses that show her clerisy and mastery of English but the plot is not compelling enough to keep the reader turn pages- and I expect this to be a characteristic of the Booker Prize winning works. There are some funny situations and others that are too hard to imagine- Desai turns the plot using its eccentric characters as weapons, into a moody concoction that doesn’t end on a happy note as you may want it to. It nevertheless shows the reality of curfew situations in India and trauma that citizens face due to unpleasant violence.

What’s most funny about the novel is the way in which the characters are stubborn about their feelings despite the level of education that they have been blessed to have at Oxford or Cambridge- this makes me wonder if people become narrow-minded after going to reputed International schools.

Nothing can be called atypical of behavior of people in the country that Desai writes about. Some of the situations that one can connect to are the US visa process, book-loving nature of the characters (which I am sure, Desai also is) and being a gourmet of good food. Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” has a scene in which a character is involved in a communist march. Desai’s novel also has a similar scene with the character Gyan- should we think of this as Roy’s influence on Desai or plagiarism of ideas or that Indian political situations in any state are so banal that authors are forced to think the same way when it comes to politics affecting the general public?

Read the book to learn about the beautiful Himalayan region of Darjeeling, its residents and life of illegal immigrants in New York City.

The God of Small Things- Review

An melancholy  novel that revolves around the lives of a few characters from a family in Kerala, specifically from a town Ayemenem- in the year 1969. Estha and Rahel, dizygotic twins in the novel form its crux and their feelings were significantly portrayed (reminded me of my childhood dreams and feelings). Their disintegrating family and its troubles inform them of impending danger that leave them distraught and shaken. Childhood trauma seems to pass on to what they do with the rest of their lives.

Roy has elaborated the feelings and completed each character’s nature with her skill and choice of words. It was a shock to see no hope and positivity in the book as most of it focussed on lives of Rahel and Estha, who had to cope up with a lot of pressure from their family from the start of the book. The twins learn that “Things Can Change in a Day”.

Set in God’s own country- Kerala, India, the book is definitely not for someone looking for a casual light-hearted reading- it shows the pangs of childhood conscience with deep emotions. On the other hand, if you are looking for some excellent description of nature in Kerala, you will be mesmerized by the picture Roy provides of its beauty and moving emotions attached to it.

Interesting characters: Ammu, Baby Kochamma, Chachko, Comrade C.M.K Pillai and Velutha
Friendly suggestion: Do not read it if you already have family troubles- it may depress you. Recommend it to open-minded, have-a-positive-outlook and serious-fiction-loving audience.