Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: The Discreet Hero

The Discreet HeroThe Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first book by the author and to say that I found it amazing would be an understatement. I am huge fan of fiction and The Discreet Hero is an epitome of brilliant fiction. Two parallel stories, in alternate chapters, each as riveting as the other. Switching between the stories turned out be really hard - which a testament to Mario Vargas Llosa's great writing. I wanted to continue reading about Don Yanaque's predicament and was simultaneously kicked about reading what happened with Don Rigoberto!

I knocked one star just because of too many red herrings and distractions. Although the book would have been incomplete without them - even the distractions were written so beautifully that I wanted to keep reading about them. Most of them had enough meat for a self sustaining spin off novel!

After a very long time I read a book of fiction that made me sad because it was ending. I realised I slowed down the pace of reading towards the end to prolong the experience of reading the book. It definitely makes me want to read the other books by Llosa. Hopefully soon!

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Our Lady of Alice Bhatti

Our Lady of Alice BhattiOur Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Things that didn't work - Disappointing read. Weak character development with no consistency in behavior or motive for almost all the major characters. Too many jumps in timelines as well as character personalities. Unexplained events, miracles without any overarching context to wrap them in. Plenty of unnecessary events that don't contribute to anything.

Things that did - unabashed dark humor that's both laugh out hilarious and gut wrenchingly painful at the same time. Quite a talent to be able to do that. Brave commentary on the state of women and minorities in Pakiatan; seemed very astute and never inauthentic or contrived. Hanif can step into the heart of his characters to communicate their pain and at the same time mock them in ingenious ways for their idiocy at feeling that pain.

A brilliant author, by any standards. All the more reasons that I felt let down by the glaring inconsistencies.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Destructive Interference

Started a story; stumbled over a twist
Here's a summary; can't spill the rest
It began with a tingling; like most beginnings
Two kindred souls; one little fish bowl
The inevitable chaos was swift; the damage, colossal
The crack on the surface; a ship in shamble
Adrift on the wreckage; the survivors found harbor
The sea of unknown between; made the separation profounder
Beyond the infinite; stood what once was her half
But a shoulder appeared presently; offering to carry her raft
The shoulder asked her who she was;
before there was time to comprehend her loss
With one half beyond the finite;
she struggled for an answer through the night
Light shone, with the morning sun
but all on the dilemma, on the solution none
Obviate the beginning to start afresh?
Or labor with the details and hope for grace?

Thursday, February 5, 2015


While I am still figuring it out, I am sure that this one is going to end up looking like a rant. But I have realized one thing - that we need to rant. This is the only way to make sure that there are enough words written, said, read and heard on this topic. I am sending out a few bytes in this posts - a few bytes that need to be the quintessential drops that constitute an ocean.


We fought for it,
we died for it,
we paid  a very heavy price for it,
and 67 years later, we must go on

We cherished it,
we adored it,
we were lost in romancing it,
to the extent that we let it become just a romantic notion

We let another steal it,
No, not steal, but in broad day light rape it
Spoiling the good name of the white knight we needed, but did not deserve
We became midnight's children because sun refused to shine on

We are back at square one today
When we refuse to tolerate one another

Tolerate another man's faith
Tolerate another man's lack of
Tolerate yet another's need to mock
Tolerate an artist's need to create whatever he wants

Tolerate a woman's choice of dress
Tolerate her choice to travel alone
Tolerate her need to let her hair down
Tolerate her desire to dance

Tolerate. For now. Tolerate till tolerance becomes a virtue. Tolerate till tolerance becomes a stepping stone to acceptance and embracing another thought, another way of life.

Tolerate because expressing yourself does not need to be about curbing someone's expression.

Destruction cannot be the response to creation
Bans cannot be the response to expression
Violence cannot be the response to assertion of independence

Give everyone the Freedom they need
Don't tell them what to think, wear, say or do

We need Freedom to create without fear of acceptance
We need Freedom to never restrict a creator's thought.