Asian Writers

June is dedicated to authors with ASIAN ORIGIN....review of books in this category will be posted all month....

Friday, March 18, 2016

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng



Complicated relationships further complicated by the family and societal pressures. Most of the times, we are capable of sustaining them, at times cracks appear and at times it leads to a collapse, a breakdown. The entire ecosystem comes tumbling down like a house of cards….

“Everything I never told you” is a story of a Chinese-American family of five in the 70’s in a small American town, the Chinese father trying desperately to blend in while the American mother directs all her efforts to stand out from the crowd. Caught between them are their three children and due to the societal DNA of the 70’s the children grown up ostracized because of their inter-racial DNA. The parents are completely oblivious to the trials and tribulations that their children face on a daily basis, their entire focus, the cynosure of their eyes, Lydia, a fifteen year old teenager, who succumbs to all this pressure. Between her mother’s lofty aspirations to make her daughter an esteemed doctor, a dream she cherished for herself, and her father’s attempts to make Lydia a popular and much sought after girl in school and otherwise, to compensate for the lack of friends that he himself had because of his background.

But none of it works. Nath, Lydia’s older brother understands and empathizes with Lydia, even when he is constantly relegated to the background and all his accomplishments are overshadowed and come to a naught. At one point he starts to nurture a grudge against Lydia and one summer, when their mother had abandoned them, pushes Lydia into the lake. That summer is the turning point in all their lives, a dark spot that changes things forever.

The book is not a happy book, it’s a serious/sad book fraught with emotions and expectations that can break havoc on a fragile relationship. It’s about secrets , suppressed emotions, vulnerabilities of teenage children, unspoken thoughts between a husband and wife that deepens the chasm and going on living each day thinking it will all work out in the end.

But for Lydia and her family, things don’t work out.  Author Celeste Ng, paints a graphic emotional picture of the Lee family, a memory that will haunt the readers for several nights.  The book should be a reminder for all parents that children even though malleable, yet are fragile beings. Even an innocuous slight, a minor rebuke can create a deep gash in the emotional and diaphanous fabric of the child. It’s all the more important in today’s world of cut throat completion, to bond with our children, laud their innocuous efforts,  cherish  and nurture their dreams and not drown them with our aspirations. Else there will be another Lydia before the lesson will be learnt and by then it will be late.
Too late.




Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn



Book - Gone Girl
Author - Gillian Flynn



Boy meets rich beautiful girl….They marry. (Awwww….)

Both lose their jobs/money is finishing fast (But of course)….

Bad times begin and the ugly husband /wife rear its head.  (Now who would have thought of that!!)

Husband cheats (Disbelief…what a shocker!!)                                
Wife is missing. Husband guilty (speechless….)

If nothing this book is a mish-mash of all the cliches put together, in the most twisted and dark fashion possible.
Kill me. Kill me now! Gone Girl will be my nemesis.

I read the first part, flipping the pages, thinking that the wonderful reviews out there would be justified.
The first part finished without so much as my brain registering even a spike of intrigue and me suppressing a yawn.
Really a best seller? Indeed? There has to be some reason….

And thus started the second part. And I was surprised by the turn……mildly.

The second part of the book is definitely better than the first, which was just blah. Although the second part built up the suspense quotient (in terms of how it would end…kill me….), it had a lot of cussing and the choice of words, the sexual connotations/references were not to my taste. (That’s why I never read Fifty Shades of Gray….) The plot in itself if one were to look at it logically was flawed.  But because of the way the story was shaping up I moved on to the third section.

And thus started the third part. And ended quickly enough. The last page was a shocker and by that I don’t mean that it was a real suspense/twist et al. I was shocked because I thought some of the pages of the book had been ripped away but that was not possible as I was reading the kindle edition of the book. So it was an actual ending. A deliberate decision by the author to end it this way. 

Nooooooooooo!!!

I was awake till 2:00 am to complete the book  (kindle showed 80% and then I just had to finish the book that very night!) and when I did, I spent the remaining hours cursing Gillian Flynn and myself in turns. Gillian Flynn for writing this crap and me for reading it. 

It is an overrated book by an overrated writer like so many others out there.

Skip it if you haven’t got the book, Shred it if you have the book and not read it, Stop reading if you haven’t finished yet. For the rest join the club of Gone Girl miserables….

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden



Book:The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
Author: Jonas Jonasson


Crazy. That's one way to look at this book. I wonder what the author had/did before the idea of this book germinated in his head....

 As weird as the name of the book, that is how weird the plot of the book, which by no means is a bad thing at least in this case. The book traces the path that the life of 5 year old young Nombeko whose sharp wits, brilliant intelligence transfer her from the shacks of  apartheid South Africa to peace loving Sweden so that she can get rid of a 10-megaton atomic bomb that accidentally landed in her lap which by the by she played a role in building.
It covers ~35 years of the girls life and juxtaposes it with historical/political events/figures, blending fact and fiction into a masterpiece of a story. In parallel runs another story of a Swedish family and their fight with the monarchy. The whole book is a combination of events that are improbable, outrageous and bordering on the ridiculous. I was often left wondering what crazy concoction is the author going to come up with in the coming pages?

The humor is dry and witty, its not a back slapping comedy. Lots of sections of the book is a third person narrative and something that will put many....many people to throw the book away. In my opinion the book runs an extra 100 -150 pages and towards the end it dragged on esp when the author started delving into the past of every character e.g. the king and his history.

Interestingly I finished it on Women's day, a perfect way to end a book whose chief protagonist was a woman who defied all odds and changed her life from a latrine cleaning woman to a .. . No matter what are background, if we  women decide it then we can move mountains...and getting rid of a ten megaton atomic bomb seems plausible too...