Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Book Review of “The Quest For Nothing” by Anurag Anand

The Quest For Nothing

by Anurag Anand

A contemporary love story that not only provokes thought but also makes you realize the importance of the people in your life – your family.

We usually end up taking our families and our loved ones for granted. And Anurag’s novel –The Quest For Nothing quite remarkably hints at that.

The story traces Akash’s life- from his management college to his professional and personal life thereafter.

To sum up the story, quite briefly:
Akash lands himself a good corporate job soon after his MBA (very tactfully, may I add), and ends up marrying Deepali (a very caring and rooted girl) in the first half of the book. He then shifts base to Mumbai to work with the FMCG sector, with his better half and both of them end up boggled by the shackles of corporate life. Though their love doesn’t diminish, the approach does. What initially was cute and kiddish about Deepali, ends up being immature and irritating at times. What follows is the increasing distance- not just physically but emotionally too.
Yes, they start taking each other for granted. At least Akash does. Good thing is that he realizes it.

We move on to see Akash moving back to Delhi as he gets a better offer in the finance sector. Distances draw the couple further apart. He ends up worrying more about Monisha (a conniving subordinate) who uses him as a hook to retain her job with the company as recession strikes.
He also befriends a stranger online to share his woes.
Towards the end of the novel, we see Akash stuck in a life/career threatening scam, only to be saved by his wife and a dear friend Vikram.

I really don’t want to give much of the story away –because this is one book I feel you should read.

The relevance of the subject is sure to resonate with your life. Young working professionals have fallen into a rut and almost everyone ends up making a similar mistake (the one Akash makes). We place our careers ahead of our families and our lives. We take it upon us to provide a better lifestyle to the ones we love, but it leads us to a path where we end up making certain “not so right” choices. In the zest to stay ahead in the rat race and to succeed professionally, we leave our lives behind.

The characters felt real. I started to care for Deepali and Akash at a point. I maybe even used some colorful language when I felt that Akash was being a “typical male” by not cherishing what he has and instead pursuing something that he doesn’t need/deserve. That was the level of connectivity here.
Akash had a great career, a loving wife, a smooth life…until he stepped on the axe, as if quite willingly!

I cannot stress enough on how much I adore the narration and the author’s lucid writing. A very gripping read that takes you on an emotional journey spanning different cities and relationships. The brilliant twists and ardent writing makes this a page-turner.

I say, go pick this up if you haven’t still. It is really worth reading!

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Book Review of “If It Is Sweet” by Mridula Koshy

If It Is Sweet

by Mridula Koshy

My fondness for short stories made me go lengths to find this book. And I definitely want to admit – it was totally worth it!

A fine amalgamation of perspective, imagination and reality. Conventional settings with contemporary outlook, without traditional facets taking over the characterization, reveal the writer’s flair of capturing your mind and lingering on for almost ever!

The Good Mother –breaks away the conservative facade and shows a mother agonizing over her failed motherhood. She ends up picking a young lover after her son’s death and commits a mistake she can never forgive herself for.

POP –walks similar lines of failed motherhood but with a newer perspective.

Jeans –is an intimate sort of a read. Who would have ever thought of writing about our pretty behinds in this way! And they do really juggle in four different sections! An erratically humorous read with an interesting view point.

The Large Girl –is a bold narrative. A tender love story beyond traditional norms and lines.

Companion – felt surreal and the emotions shared by the two companions come to reveal a surprise ending.

Stories like “Today is the Day, Romancing the Koodawalla, Not Known, Stray Blades of Grass and Same Day,” reveal the feelings of characters belonging to the lower strata of society. The stories show the humane aspect of the author and her keen observation skill. Some of the characters are the ones we would have come across in life but reading Mridula’s stories makes us see aspects we would have never considered earlier. She doesn’t sound preachy or gung ho about the fates or challenges faced by her characters –but simply puts forth their feelings and aspirations. Beautifully written.

When the Child was a Child, 3-2-1, First Time, and Passage” –deal with loss and mourning and lives of expats. Come to see, almost all stories have an underlying theme of sorrow and loss. Maybe that’s what binds the entire collection.

Overall, a well-paced, strikingly original and riveting collection that navigates locales between Los Angeles and Delhi. And all the seventeen stories in If It Is Sweet are unique and leave behind an everlasting impression.

Most of the stories make you go back to them. For a second read. And each time you read them, there’s a different aspect that comes to light. The stories create a stir…an unrest in your mind. They make you see the realities as the author visions.

Mridula’s writing is lucid and smooth. It haunts you in a desirable way. You are bound to find it demanding (or bumpy sometimes), but it is a style you will end up loving.

A myriad of emotions and a palette of feelings, the book deserves to be in your bookshelf forever!

Not to forget the unassuming title that leaves a very different taste in your mind. Astounding.

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Book Review of “Urban Shots”

Urban Shots

[28 (not 29) urban tales by 13 writers]

What a lovely anthology!

Urban Shots comprises 29 short stories by 13 writers (edited by Paritosh Uttam, who has also contributed 10 stories to the collection).

The stories revolve around relationships, in urban cities (metros), as they exist today. Relationships not just amongst youngsters but relationships shared by married couples, an old father and his son (and daughter-in-law), friends, colleagues, and people overall.

The stories talk about friendship, love, infidelity, hope, liberation, serendipity, angst, longing and a hoard of feelings that we sometimes don’t take time to notice. The best part is that you can read this book as per your convenience and not worry about dropping it mid-way to attend to other things.

So if you are travelling or waiting at the bus stop or sipping coffee alone – this book guarantees to be your best companion.

Paritosh’s stories are very crisp and brilliantly woven. They describe a certain instance or a day of a person’s life in a way that makes you visualize his/her (almost) entire life in a jiffy. I absolutely loved his writing.

Ahmed Fiyaz has contributed three stories and all of them are a breezy read. The simple day-to-day tone and language used by Ahmed make the instances very familiar and relatable.

Kainaz Motivala’s first published work of fiction – “Hope comes in small packages” is a very cute little story about a mother’s loss (of a child) and how she finds “hope”. Kainaz also is the face of Urban Shots.

Malathi Jaikumar’s story – “Liberation” – revolves around the life of an uneducated rural woman (from South India) married to a man who later moves to the city; she bears two children and faces the wrath of her drunk husband every weekend –and finally one fine day she finds her way out of the assault.

Her second offering, “Just average”, is about an otherwise average woman who shows extraordinary courage in a certain situation.

Bishwanath Gosh’s “Morning Showers” is a crisp tale about infidelity. Simple and well written. His second story “Women in Love” shows an almost precise picture of how women in love behave.

Abha Iyengar’s “Slow Rain” talks about a woman’s feelings of love and longing that have almost disappeared from her married life and her friendship with another man.
Prateek Gupta’s “Apple Pies and a Grey Sweater” revolves around love and friendship just like Kunal Dhabalia’s “Love All” but his “Driving Down the Memory Lane” treads the fine line of infidelity.

Sahil Khan’s “The Untouched Guitar” is extremely refreshing. Though what feels like a regular story told by a youngster recalling life through college years – the last line is what brought a smile to my face. And if I may add – it’s Kick A** !!!

Vrinda Baliga’s “Stick Figures” is a very touching tale and so is “Dialects of Silence” that peeps into the life of an Indian woman.

Rikin Khamar’s “The House in Alibagh” is a bit mystical and different from the rest.

Naman Saraiya’s “Trial and Error” makes up for a quick yet engaging read.

This collection of part-fiction-part-real stories makes up for a great start by Grey Oak Publishers. The new young-age writers have shown a knack of keen observation of human tendencies and behavior in today’s fast-paced life, especially in the metros. We no longer think twice before indulging in extra marital affairs or living in the fast lane where loving someone a moment ago and dumping them the next doesn’t really bother us. Instant gratification is what rules our behavior and preferences nowadays. Emotional attachments barely exist.

Reading this book made me wonder about the sea-change in perception we have undergone in the recent years. Aren’t we somewhere down the line losing the real essence of words like – love, sacrifice, marriage…?

We are not the ones to judge a certain thing as “right” or “wrong”. What appeals to us in a certain moment is what we indulge in. No time for deeper thoughts – or the consequences that follow.

Maybe this is the way of life for most of us. No wonder thirteen writers have penned similar feelings in their work (!!!)

Overall, a great attempt and a good read. I highly recommend this one.

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