From An-Other Land
AUTHOR: Janki Nagaraj
GENRE: Fiction (Anthology of short stories of various genre)
ASIN : B074G4W2TD
BLURB (on Goodreads)
“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could” – Georgia O’Keeffe.
A serial killer on the loose who chooses a particular day of the month to kill his victims; a strained father – son relationship, when the father returns home after being presumed dead; a girl who can go to any extent for her career and money; a woman openly acknowledging the presence of the many ‘other women’ in her life; a lady’s dark past finally catches up with her… Life is an ongoing sequence of events meshed with everyday mundaneness so that it becomes difficult to isolate them.
‘Fragments’ captures the essence of those parts of our lives that we are not proud to show to others. It takes you through a range of emotions and leaves a big question mark on what is supposed to be.
A motley collection of short stories that bring out the various facets of life and human emotions, ‘Fragments’ touches hearts and tickles the brain. Each story is a surprise and showcases the creative side of the storyteller beautifully.
While ‘The Ritual’ defied the ‘sleuth’ in me and caught me unawares by its unpredictable climax, ‘The Homecoming’ captured the agony of the disfigured soldier, father to a son who hates his very sight, well. One can’t help but empathize with both father and son given that both of them are suffering the only difference being that while the father suffers on account of being the cause of the son’s agony and depression, the son suffers because of pent up emotions and misplaced hatred.
‘Close Call’ was a bit of a disappointment I must admit, but then the next one ‘The Last Laugh’ compensated for it. The title sure misled me till the last few lines. But then what is the use of building up a suspense if you can’t hold it till the end.
‘Naked’ left not only Ravi the character speechless but left me too. I’d never ever have thought of such a brilliant ending to a story that could either have a vulgar ending or a violent one. Hats off to the author for cooking up something like this – khatta- meetha.
‘If you can’t understand my silence….’sent shivers down my spine. The story is a reality check. It reminds us how vulnerable the young one is if not mentored on time regarding the harsh realities of the outside world. My heart went out to little Sharat.
‘The Escape to Hell’ too did not work for me but then the author adequately compensated for the disappointment with her next story i.e. ‘Stree’ where the plight of women is put forth effectively in just three hundred fifty plus words.
‘Quid Pro Quo’ and ‘The Other Women In My Life’ impart some life lessons. While the former emphasizes the saying ‘money can’t buy everything’ the latter gives us a valuable lesson on happiness. Via ‘Quid Pro Quo’ we also get an insight into how empathy and assistance come from unexpected quarters. It also imparts a valuable lesson in Karma.
‘What Goes Around…’ left me angry with the protagonist Simran. I’ve always believed that our sufferings make us better human beings, they nudge us to act when we see someone in a dire situation more so when we have gone through a something similar. But Simran left me wondering if I’ve been dreaming so.
‘I Don’t Want To Be An Adult’ struck a chord within me and I couldn’t help but feel strongly for ‘Jing band Aunty’ aka Parimala. Loneliness I must admit, is unnerving at times and more so when age catches up. But to beat it one must dig into the self and draw out that which makes us happy and keeps us young in spirit. The story reveals the secret of Parimala’s ‘youth,’ one that is looked down upon as eccentricity by society but which if pondered on deeply, is anything but that.
‘Sexy Body, Big Boobs’ is a bitter truth. It is a pill that scalds the throat and leaves the stomach burning leading to an ulcer that slowly but steadily becomes cancerous.
Language is simple, crisp and lucid and the style of narration is perfect. My only grudge is:
1) The number of stories is few.
2) The ending of some stories felt abrupt and rough. I would have loved to see them neatly filed and shaped even if it meant adding a few more pages.
A short read packed with myriad shades of life that encase various emotions like love, lust, greed, deceit, treachery, revenge, depression, etc., ‘Fragments’ will leave one wanting for more. I’ll give it a 3 on a scale of 5.
AUTHOR: Bragadeesh Prasanna
As a torture technique, Waterboarding involves the torturer covering the face of the captive with a dripping wet towel to give a sensation of drowning. While the mind knows that it is not actually drowning, the captive’s body sends contrasting signals to the brain making it a very painful experience.
Ved, who just got out of a life-altering accident, finds out that he has gaping holes in the tapestry that was his past memories. He is unsure about his past and uncertain about his future but goes through with the present with the help of his friends Sara. Sara slowly builds Ved’s past for him, filling him in with people and instances he had forgotten.
As Ved struggles with the financial strain caused by his accident and subsequent medical bills and while figuring out whom to trust, Ved is forced to live in the moment, which is getting darker, more terrifying and maddening as his past catches up with him. Will he finally get to know who he was and how his past actions affect his present?
A love triangle woven with elements like love, lust, jealousy and deceit in right measure, ‘Waterboarding’ has at its core the issue of an identity crisis resulting on account of loss of partial memory. Ved the protagonist is at crossroads. The past is a puzzle and the present fails to help him solve the same. Old friends are either strangers or mere acquaintances. The one and only one in whom he places his trust and looks up to act as a bridge between his past and present too fails him. Secrets disturb him and ill health makes him reticent. Life looks bleak. That’s when things look up…..
Jolts and shocks unexpected leave Ved gasping for breath. But will the will to survive, the urge to discover, the challenge to accept help him move on in life or will fear, anxiety and frustration pull him down and let him drown? The twists, the turns and the climax have addressed these questions beautifully. However, certain things especially with respect to the happenings in Maya’s life, her easily giving in to certain demands made by Ved despite the fact that he is not much of an acquaintance and she is quite well educated and has seen much of the world, defy logic.
Narrated from the point of view of the three main characters i.e. Ved, Sara and Maya, the story is like I’ve mentioned earlier, not devoid of flaws. There are inconsistencies in the style of narration at times.
The characters of Ved and Sara are well developed but, the character of Maya is confusing. I’d have also liked to know more about Ramesh. His character has the potential of adding value to the story if handled better.
Language though simple and devoid of jargon, fails to impress at places. A revisit in terms of editing is urgently needed to fine tune certain parts of the book and make it more relatable and enjoyable.
I’ll give the book a 3 on a scale of 5.
TITLE: Breathing Two Worlds
AUTHOR: Ruchira Khanna
Neena Arya, a Delhi-born goes abroad for further studies and decides to settle down there. Determined to be a ‘somebody’ from a ‘nobody’ she blends with the Americans via the accent and their mannerisms while having a live-in relationship with her European boyfriend, Adan Somoza.
When illness hits home, Neena rushes to meet her ailing dad. Tragedy strikes and amidst the mingling with relatives and friends, she finds herself suffocated with the two different cultures that she has been breathing since she moved to the United States. How will she strike a balance between both the cultures as she continues to support her widowed mother? Will she be able to do justice to her personal and professional life after the loss?
Amidst the adjusting she bonds with an ally and learns about ties beyond blood. On what grounds will she be able to form an invisible thread that she has longed for since childhood?
Breathing Two Worlds ventures into cultures and ethnicity allowing Neena to ponder upon her foundation and priorities.
Storyline- Plot: Interesting! An uncomplicated and simple read, ‘Breathing Two Worlds’ is the story of a confused soul one which is sandwiched between two extremely different tastes, cultures and mannerisms. The adjustments, the frustration, the suffocation’, the dilemma that the soul i.e. the protagonist experiences are brought out beautifully in the story. While one world is always pricking her back with its prying eyes, the other is least concerned with what she does, how she behaves in public, etc., etc.
The book is also about making choices, bonding, caring for others sentiments and coming to terms with grief. It also reflects the dilemma of those millions who migrate from their roots to lands distant and alien, lands where they have to struggle to make a niche for themselves, lands which have an entirely different set of rules, cultures, traditions and habits. There are philosophical moments and emotional moments.But the thing that stands out is the resilience of the human mind and its ability to adjust to changing situations.
No twists, no turns yet exciting and engrossing that’s ‘Breathing Two Worlds.’
CHARACTERIZATION: The characters especially that of the protagonist Neena, are well developed. The sub characters add to the story and reflect the myriad shades of human nature well.
LANGUAGE: Simple. Yet there were places where the flow was found wanting. The book could do with a fresh round of editing to smoothen out the flaws. Though not many they still have the ability to act as irritants at times.
PACE: Initially slow, but once it picks up there is no looking back.
A simple yet interesting and engaging read, one that you can pick up on a lazy afternoon to beat the heat or soothe frayed nerves; I’ll give it a 4 on a scale of 5.
TITLE: The Story of My Second Marriage
AUTHOR: Mahesh Sowani
PUBLISHER: Blue Flower Books
Marriage, does it really make a person happy? Or is it all about adjustments? Intense, haunting and evocative, The Story of My Second Marriage is a delightful rumination on marriage, adjustments and human nature.
STORYLINE/ PLOT: Interesting and different. Narrated in first person by the protagonist Manju aka Manjunath, the story is about his second marriage. But is it as simple as that or is it just about his second marriage? No. A simpleton, Manju is prone to comparing his second wife i.e. Yamini with his first wife Chitralekha. However though he finds her less overbearing and more hospitable when compared to Chitralekha, he is at his wits end when he finds out that she is a compulsive liar. The ugly demon of suspicion raises its head within him giving him sleepless nights and making him irritable. Does he succeed in making peace with his situation? Does he forgive Yamini? What turn does his life take? To know this and much more of Manju’s second marriage one will have to read the book.
There are some unforeseen twists and there are some turns but the story is basically about Manju’s equations with his second wife.
CHARACTERIZATION: The character of Manju is well developed. He comes across as the village simpleton who in spite of acquiring a good education and landing a good job is hesitant to open his mouth, take firm decisions and use his authority when needed. He lacks in self-confidence and is a confused man. His frustration and lack of self-confidence is clearly reflected in the way he views his life and his handling of situations. On the other hand his sister Jaya comes across as a strong character.
Yamini left me confused I must admit. I could not understand her character in the beginning, neither on finishing the halfway mark nor by the end of the story. I wish there was more clarity as far as her character was concerned. It would have definitely made her feel more realistic and relatable.
LANGUAGE: Simple. Neither jargon nor long,winding sentences.
There are a lot of holes in the story that need to be darned seamlessly to make it truly enjoyable. A few cuts here and there will do no harm. In fact they will not only make the story slim and healthy but will be able to hold the reader’s interest till the end without making him/ her release a yawn.
In its present form the story comes across as a raw manuscript with umpteen grammatical errors as well as typos. The touch of a professional can work wonders for the story. Hope the author goes in for fresh editing soon.
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1. Rubina Ramesh
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“Not too long before we can get as many of them 3-D printed.”
That pretty much sums up Josh Winslow’s feelings about classic artifacts. As a man of science and technology, he couldn’t care less about old bronze idols. Unfortunately, his brother Tom has just made one such idol his problem.
Vidya Thyagarajan, a young banker from Chennai, didn’t expect to chase the origins of old idols either. But her friend Tom has just entangled her in one such chase.
Along with Vidya, Josh reluctantly embarks on a journey to India to track the origins of a Chola bronze idol. Through the urban maze of Chennai, dusty roads of small towns in deep Chola territory, they discover clues that confounds them every step of the way.
During a short span of a week, the quest quickly becomes personal as the shadow of the past challenges their outlook toward life and love. (less)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Radhika Nathan is a juggler, a meanderer and a rolling stone. She believes in the miracle of words and the rain. Her favourite pastimes include reading, listening to podcasts and gazing at monsoon clouds. Her taste in books is eclectic ranging from anthropology to old fashioned murder mysteries, and if pushed she would name Jane Austen as her favourite author for her believable, eternal characters. Travel is something she enjoys and has been to more than a dozen countries- for the love of meeting new people and discovering new cultures.
Radhika writes for her fascination of human beings, intrigued by their archetypal & atypical behaviour and the differences & similarities in all of us. Writing is a means that forces her to think and re-examine a point of view or a preconceived notion. ‘I grow as a person as I write’, she says and quotes ‘A well written sentence [a rare occurrence] is like soul chocolate.’
Radhika, believes in a spiritual approach to life that welcomes science. She believes in liberty, equality, personal responsibility and fair play.
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About The Author
I was also, professionally, India Cultural Lead and Trendspotter with CEB Iconoculture US and am currently Senior consultant with Vector Insights LLP.
My debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2011. My second novel, Once Upon A Crush,published by Leadstart, was released in May 2014. My third book, All Aboard, was published by Penguin in 2015, as was Karmic Kids, my first non fiction book, published by Hay House in 2015 as well. My fourth fiction work, The Face At the Window, was published by Amaryllis in March 2016.
A simple yet relatable story, ‘Cabbing all the Way’ had me gritting my teeth at times, at the insensitive behaviour of Saina. But at the same time there are instances where I couldn’t help laughing out aloud. The book is hilarious, witty and truly enjoyable. Without making it seem so, the author has cleverly delved into human psychology and brought out the best and the worst in human nature.
CHARACTERIZATION: The author has succeeded in bringing live all the characters in the book. They are well developed with all their imperfections and thus one can easily relate to them, their moods, actions and reactions.
Yes, if you would ask me if I felt if there was something wanting in the story, I’d say I’d like to have seen the author make the aggrieved characters take Saina to task. I felt they were way too lenient with her. I’d have also liked the author spend a little more time with his characters making them work more hard to find out solutions to the problems they faced.
LANGUAGE: Simple and witty, something that comes naturally when you have lived the life of the character/s.
PACE: Slow at first but picks up after the first quarter portion of the book. From there on there is no looking back.
EDITING: I’ve always been a great fan of Readomania’s editing team. Except for two-three minor typos there is nothing that does not do justice to their proficiency in the field.
ONE OF THE TWELVE
A software engineer by day and a passionate writer by night, Jatin Kuberkar likes to express his inspirations in the form of poetry, short stories, novels and essays.
An ardent lover of Hyderabadi biryani and a worshipper of chaai, Jatin lives in Hyderabad and is the author of two other books—Rainbow Dreams, a collection of poetry and While I Was Waiting, a collection of short stories. Cabbing all the Way is Jatin’s third book.
My journey as a writer started after I joined Wrimo India. It’s a group of aspiring authors where all members are challenged to write, by the NaNoWriMo ML for India region and the Founder/Admin of Wrimo India, Sonia Rao. Along with the other admins, Neel Ina and Dola Basu Singh, she made our lives pretty tough if we did not submit on time.
Our work was critiqued, broken to pieces and then mended again by all the Wrimo members. I laugh now, whenever I reminisce about those days. We writers are so passionate about our work that even a little bit of criticism makes us want to hide our baby. But in this group, we trained ourselves to accept all types of honest criticism. We sculpted our stories and life continued. This happened around 2 years ago.
Then, one fine day I found that I had gathered around 17 stories and forgotten all about them. As I dusted away the layers of neglect, I fell in love with my own stories. I am a narcissist. 🙂 But then, all writers are, aren’t they? I do hope what I have written from my heart, touches you. Here are the stories of a writer who aspires to always write from her heart. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, here’s raising a toast to inspiration!