Needless to say, this is one of the best books I have read this year (or, in a couple of years). This heart-wrenching tale takes you through the lives of its main characters, in such poignant ways that you feel you are living their lives. Detailed review below:
The characters: Are so real! Subhash – the elder brother – passive and yet so sensitive. Udayan – The rebel. The one that got carried away by the ideals of someone else. The one who wanted to make a difference, but got lost somewhere. Intelligent, and yet not so. Gauri – the woman whom Udayan falls in love with and marries. Also the woman whom Subhash eventually marries. Of all the characters in this book, it is Gauri who struck a chord with me. Intelligent and independent. Deeply in love with Udayan, even after his passing. With all her imperfections (her mother-in-law describes her as too withdrawn and aloof to be a mother), she still seems perfect. Bela – daughter of Gauri and Udayan, raised by Subhash. Independent, like her mother, strong-willed like her father, sensitive like her uncle, who raised her as his own daughter.
The language/technique: There is something so flawless about the way the sentences and paragraphs just flow into each other. One thing I noticed is that none of the dialogues are enclosed by quotation marks. I have not read Jhumpa’s other works, so I do not know if she has used this technique before. But the lack of quotation marks makes the narration seems all-the-more flawless. A kind of ink-block seems to be erased that way. There are some neatly-handled flashbacks. There is no in-your-face narration. The story is very calm and flows at a smooth pace.
Overall rating: 4.5/5