Book of the month is Tomb of Sand – Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell. A wonderful read. Such an exuberant book, playful and lively in style. While the bones of the story are fairly simple – 80 year old Ma rises from deep depression and sets out on an odyssey, driven by unresolved issues from her early years in Pakistan, during the period of Partition. The treatment of the story, the language, the word play, the diversions and detours into a myriad other topics are what makes the novel so original.
The brilliant translator of the novel, Daisy Rockwell, says … Tomb of Sand is above all a love letter to the Hindi language.
And: … a tale of many threads, encompassing modern urban life, ancient history. Folklore, feminism ,global warming, Buddhism …
Not to mention Ma’s unseemly friendship with Rosie a hijra (eunuch/transvestite/wedding entertainer); then there’s Ma’s Daughter Beti, a modern bohemian woman determinedly living a single life away from her family; there are talking birds; there’s a long divagation into Ma’s sari collection, and much much more.
If you prefer novels that are clear-cut and plot driven, you probably should give the book a miss.
If you like Indian novels, with all the colour, smells, vivid characters and uproar of daily life, then this is the book for you.
I need to record my thanks to my generous friend C, who presented me with the book and made great efforts to get the book to me. Gratitude, my friend.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The novel won the international Booker prize in 2021, no surprises there. Highly recommended.
Postscript: here’s a link to an excellent article on the book.:
The Music of Bees – Eileen Garvin . The golden thread of honey from the lives of bees and their beekeepers, sticks this heartwarming story together. Recently widowed Alice and newly paraplegic teen Jake get their lives back together through beekeeping, while hapless Harry enters their little farm and is healed by friendship and kite-surfing. The healing power of friendship is a major theme, with sub-themes of dysfunctional families and the villainous mega company destroying the orchard industry . I enjoyed the book enormously.
The Secret Keeper of Jaipur – Alka Joshi. Sequel to The Henna Artist. Family secrets abound, as do love and jealousy, and gold smuggling. Modern India, colourful and complex. Enjoyable but not memorable . Fans of Indian novels will love it.