(A review by Sidharth Vardhanof ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ – a novel by Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez) ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ is a journalistic account of a murder, and not at all detective-like at that. In very first pages both the murderers and the murdered are revealed. It is only the writing style of Gabriel Marquez that makes this average story so enjoyable. , Gabriel put the Santigo’s flip side in the very beginning and then goes on to reveal the motive of murder which makes you believe that the murder may have some justification. Slowly though we realize he probably didn’t do the thing he was murdered for. The character gets more humane in later half; still, his behavior, especially in those last moments is strange. The chronicle shows you the hollow nature of society. A really, really expensive marriage wouldn’t survive a day. Angela Vicaro’s writing letters to her husband for seventeen years is something so weird that you won’t believe it to be real if you didn’t know otherwise – especially because she didn’t want to be married to him in the first place. Then there is the fact that only hours before the murder,
(A review of ‘The Shape of the Ruins’,a novel by Juan Gabriel Vásquez,English translation by Anne McLean short-listed for International Booker in 2019Review first written on March 10, 2019) I do love how the books are growing shorter. This is the biggest (the only big) book in 2019’s long list of International Booker (now in short list) and it didn’t feel that long. I think what makes it a quick read is that much of it is narrating facts and events Which kind of offer much less food for thought per minute. The main theme is conspiracy theories. And it had a putting off effect on me. I find some of them interesting (Dan Brown novels are interesting) but not the ones that concern the death of political figures (Kennedy, Bose, etc), definitely not enough to read 600 page long novels on them. The Marquez Connections This one interested me because of the mention of the name of Gabriel Marquez in some of the reviews. Apparently, Marquez happened to be in place of murder of a famous Colombian politician, Gaitain, just after the murder took place and would remember, in his autobiography (Living to Tell The Tale), a mysterious elegant
(A review of ‘Mouthful of Birds’,a collection of short stories by Samantha Schweblin long-listed for International Booker in 2019 for English translation by Megan McDowell) Most of these short stories have a sort of nightmarish qualities about them, much like another Intentional Booker nominee from author, Fever Dreams (but ‘Fever Dreams’ had a far better execution IMO and, to be honest, should have won International Booker that year). Sometimes the nightmarish quality is due to environment or because of the perspective of a child narrator while others really have a somewhat Kafka-like dream-realism (unpredictable sequence of surreal events) with an which is the thing I enjoy most about this author. The unease one feels during a nightmare is common to the narrators of all the good stories in here. ‘Headlights’, ‘Butterflies’, ‘Preserves”, ‘toward the civilisation’ etc are some of the best ones. There a few less enjoyable stories (the titular story, incidentally, was one of those I enjoyed less), but the 5-star ones are too difficult to ignore. A bad sample, bad not because it is a bad story, but because it doesn’t have this nightmarish quality, can be read here.
(Fever Dreams by Samanta Schweblin English translation by Megan McDowell was long listed for International Booker in 2017First written on August 13, 2017) The harmful effects of pesticides – a theme that might not be obvious to an urban reader of the book (the characters themselves seemed to not know about them) is the unnamed curse of the town. However, as with the treatment of psychopath theme in ‘Room’, the much louder theme just serves as a background for theme of how strong a mother’s love is. You know how homo-sapiens, especially females, keep on sentimentalizing over their parental investment and all that. Now comes the best part though – and it is the fact that the things occur, or rather are being remembered as if they occur in dream – Nah, a nightmare. For the most part, it makes most logical sense – Amanda, the protagonist, is dreaming while lying on her deathbed (hence the title) – there are some things towards the end that Amanda couldn’t have known but then she might still be dreaming – the whole unreliable narrator thing. It is how brilliantly this dream reality has been created which gets the book 5 stars. Nabokov
(A review of the short story’Aleph’ by Jorge Luis BorgesFirst written on January 17, 2016) “All language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past.” Jorge Luis Borges (Aleph) …. and so there must be things beyond describing powers of language. What if some day you were to come across a thing or an experience who is nothing like shared past? The human impulse to communicate must find a let out, and where mere words are not enough we need poetry: Daneri’s real work lay not in the poetry but in his invention of reasons why the poetry should be admired. Jorge Luis Borges (Aleph) Daneri, like most good poets, didn’t invent reasons, he found them – found them in the inexplicable Aleph. Borges is not only talking about nature of language or importance of poetry, he also seems to be speculating why the descriptions of supernatural are so vague or strange: “How, then, can I translate into words the limitless Aleph, which my floundering mind can scarcely encompass? Mystics, faced with the same problem, fall back on symbols: to signify the godhead, one Persian speaks of a bird that somehow is all birds;
(A review of ‘Love in Time of Cholera’ – a novel by Nobel laureate Gabriel García MárquezFirst read on May 16, 2014) Probably the only time that I will rate a book with word ‘Love’ in its title with five stars but there are very few stories so completely told – I love every single word in this book. From very first sentence Marquez captures your attention and starts a story that is like pure music, moving in perfect rhythm, moving between scenes in a perfect flow, so that you move through pages without stopping to think – the way you carry on listening to good music without trying to focus on lyrics. The tribute to love is obvious from the very beginning, “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. ” Gabriel García Márquez (Love in Time of Cholera) However, even the urequited love is better than no love at all. “It is a pity to still find a suicide that is not for love.” Gabriel García Márquez (Love in Time of Cholera) and later, “The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.” Gabriel García