A few weeks ago, I had informally announced that I would not be accepting any more books from authors/publishers for review, as I was not getting a chance to read what I wanted. But of course there are exceptions to every rule. When Tomichan Matheikal requested a review of his new book, The Nomad Learns Morality, I agreed without a moment’s hesitation. I have been following Tomichan’s blog for some time now, and his well-crafted, intelligent stories have always fascinated me. His book is a collection of 33 stories that have previously appeared on his blog.
The title, The Nomad Learns Morality, is the name of one of the short stories that appears in the second half of the book. But all the stories in the book, in subtle ways, question morality as we know it, what we have been taught as “right” or “moral.” The first half of the book has stories from mythology and history, all told from a perspective different from what we have often heard. For example, in the mythologies, it is often maintained, and even enforced that Rama is the ideal man. While not directly, and not in a preachy way, in the book, his situation is juxtaposed with that of Sita’s to question how right his actions really were. The second half has fictional stories set in the present day.
There’s an underlying, inconspicuous thread in all the stories, which is what lingers on your mind once you’ve finished reading. It indicates that all that religions teach as “moral” is in essence not so (anyone who knows Lot’s story can vouch for that!) This is a sentiment that I agree with wholeheartedly. There is a hint of sarcasm, in a black comedy way, in the bottomline of each story. This is a style I have noted and admired in Tomichan’s writing ever since I started reading his blog. His writing is unlike any of the writers we have today. The thread of the stories is vaguely reminiscent of the short story Michelangelo by Gulzar.
There were some (very) minor errors that could have been corrected with some proofreading. Also, for the mythological stories, some background would have been more helpful – those not familiar with at least the outline may feel a little lost (especially so in the story titled The Autumn of the Patriarch – an excellent story otherwise).
Overall, a highly enjoyable read that I recommend to everyone.
Available at: OnlineGatha
Note: A PDF copy of the book was sent by the author for review.