Book Review of ‘Rivers Run Back’, a collaborative novel by Joyce Yarrow and Arindam Roy
A Gripping, Unputdownable Saga of Humanity
‘Rivers Run Back’, the cross-cultural novel encompassing decades, continents and the physical and emotional struggles of individuals, is a thrilling narrative of how destinies of individuals are intertwined in a strange, inexplicable turn of events. The novel, a unique literary collaboration of two master storytellers from different countries and backgrounds, Joyce Yarrow and Arindam Roy, is a wonder-filled read. Every single chapter, multi-layered, crisp, is neatly woven into the narrative, intriguing us with a plethora of characters, settings and a brilliant, nuanced labyrinth of plots and sub-plots. As a reader, I felt immensely close to both the protagonists Shankar and Marilyn, the erudite, gentle academician and the talented, multifaceted yet troubled, psychologically challenged painter, the neglected, marginalized, cruel, notorious Narsimha, and Padma and Leela, the poised and the fiesty sisters who complemented each other, each of them forming a brilliant mosaic of love, intrigue, deception, abuse and villainy.
The storyline, complex, intriguing and volatile, is a true roller coaster ride with countless surprising twists, turns that baffled me, challenged me, yet gripped me till the end with its fascinating blend of psychological and mythical themes dexterously woven into a richly nuanced, multi-dimensional tapestry. The wise, aristocratic world of Shankar and Marilyn is pitted against the manipulating, villainous world of Narsimha to form myriad layers of diametrically opposing characters and settings and how they intersect to unfold some infinite, inexplicable truths of humanity. I particularly loved the way the various strands of the narrative are interconnected with a smooth dexterity which has a cinematic effect to it. It is definitely a gripping psychological thriller, a suspenseful, intriguing and bewitching tale of love, intrigue and life’s strange, unexplained surprises that will stay with me for a long time.
Book Review: ‘A Treatise On Poetry For Beginners’ By Dr. Ampat Koshy
My book review of Dr. Koshy’s ‘A Treatise On Poetry For Beginners’ has been published at ‘Learning And Creativity’, an online resource on literature, films, music and the arts in their ‘Literature’ section. Do have a look, friends, if you can! Thankful to Dr. A.V. Koshy for the wonderful book and to Antara Nanda Mondal, editor of L & C for publishing it.
Excerpts of the review:
“Dr. Koshy’s ‘Treatise’ is a journey to make his readers understand why and how, poems through the ages, through their similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, alliteration, euphony and cacophony, are actually meant to cater to our hearts, our emotions and finer human feelings.
Characterized by refined, superior poetic sensibilities, a keen eye for details into the minutest structural and aesthetic aspects of poetry writing and a signature wit, Dr. Koshy’s ‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ can be defined as a complete, comprehensive manifesto on poetry writing with a possibility of diverse readership. It is, first and foremost, for amateur poets striving to enhance their craft. It is also meant for mature poets who love looking into the art and evolution of poetry into its present times, and last but not the least, for the aficionados who love reading poetry for its richness of sounds, metaphor, imagery and a huge variety of poetic styles.”
Do visit this page to red the full review of the book:
Book Review: ‘Farthest House’ by Margaret Lukas
It has been an immense pleasure knowing Margaret Lukas, or Margie Lukas, as she is known by. We had crossed paths at the Annual authors’ fair in a public library in Downtown Omaha on January 2014, where I came to know her as the author of her debut novel ‘Farthest House’, published by WriteLife LLC, Omaha. Lukas also happens to be a professor teaching fiction at The Writer’s Workshop program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After the initial introduction that day, our interactions grew in a local writers’ meeting and workshop conducted by David Martin, the Editor of ‘Fine Lines’ journal, where we met as writing peers, shared the drafts of our latest short stories, essays et al. I happened to buy her book at the authors’ fair of Omaha, and was in love with it instantly due to the evocative richness of the narrative. I knew I had to write a review of this outstanding, multilayered mystery novel, and my review is a result of both the reading of the book and a detailed question-and-answer session I had with her that addressed her writing process in general and the book in particular.
Sharing excerpts of the review published at ‘Prairie Fire’ newspaper, dated July 2014.
“On the third of May, 1960, a girl child is born in a home delivery filled with complications and questions. As she is miraculously “harvested,” her mother dies. In the opening chapter of Margaret Lukas’s debut novel, Farthest House, readers are transported to a tragic, moving, and suspenseful world of family secrets. The narrative, complex and lyrical from the start, becomes spine chilling the moment we know that it is told by none other than the spirit of Amelie-Anais, dead nineteen years. From the opening, the novel is a roller-coaster ride of powerful, unsettling emotions as the ghost narrates the account of the baby’s birth, connecting the story to her own life in eastern France and the Plains of Nebraska. The girl, named Willow, born with a minor physical handicap, instantly becomes the narrator’s focus, and the story moves forward from there in layers, recounting Willow’s transition from a helpless baby to a bewildered young woman and a passionate painter.”
To read the rest of the review at ‘Prairie Fire’, visit:
Featuring Nebraska-based award winning author Lisa Knopp and her latest book ‘What the River Carries’
[Sharing from my blog post dated February 16, 2014]
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
Since my early initiation into the world of books and writers, I have believed that both writing a book and unfolding its myriad mysteries by reading it are solitary pursuits. At the same time, I have to acknowledge that as I went on with this pursuit, this journey myself, I came to discover that while reading every new book, I somehow became one with the psychological, spiritual journey of the author himself. As a young reader fresh out of college, I still remember how passionately I used to read the classic English as well as regional novels, short stories and other works in prose, while the fictional world created by the authors used to sweep me away in so much charm and stupor that it became an alternate world where I could see myself inhabiting easily, effortlessly. I guess what resonated with me in that charmed state, like billions of other readers, was that the work was a projected reality born out of the writer’s faith, conviction and vision of life.
I had been initiated into the world of nonfiction, memoirs and autobiography a little later in life. While exploring the world of nonfiction writing, I had been more compelled to understand or grasp the spiritual journey of the authors, the challenges and the incentives of crafting moments, experiences of their own lives that mattered to them and the readers. The nonfiction works that I found most appealing during this period were quite vast and varied in their content and scope. My readings included the wide gamut of autobiographical nonfiction writing, memoir writing and creative or literary nonfiction writing like ‘The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass’, the seething document of Douglass’ life and struggles in a white-dominated America or ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and other memoirs by Maya Angelou, chronicling her own life’s journey. At the same time, I have been intrigued by the experimental narratives and the unmatched prowess of storytelling by modern essayists including Joe Ann Beard, Joan Didion, Anne Lamott, among others.
For quite some time, while being a graduate student engaged in reading and writing creative nonfiction, the thought of writing book reviews and conducting author interviews was pressing me. I was intrigued by the idea of unraveling some of the great, unknown moments of epiphany which transpired in the mind of an author while in the process of creating a particular nonfiction work. I did previously interview award-winning fiction writer Patricia McCormick about her two acclaimed novels, which were written as works of fiction, but were based out of some real-life experiences the writer was part of. While starting to talk to Nebraska-based award winning author and essayist Dr. Lisa Knopp, who also happens to be my thesis adviser, about her latest collection of personal essays, ‘What the River Carries: Encounters with Mississippi, Missouri and Platte’, I discovered that her spiritual journey with the book has been as much enriching, awe-inspiring and gratifying as that of a writer of fiction. What I was looking for while trying to understand her journey with the book was, how much did the subject matter of the three rivers appeal to her metaphorically, and how did her personal narrative and the greater truths of the Midwestern American landscape and its ecology fit into that metaphor.
While working with Dr. Knopp step-by-step into knowing the answers to these and much more, it was an enriching learning experience for me as a reader as I attempted to understand her own creative process, her unique, innovative way of exploring truths about her physical surroundings and how they merged with the truths of her own life.
You can read the full review of the book here:
Read on here to find out what Dr. Lisa Knopp herself has to say about my review in her website:
In near future, I wish to be part of more spiritual journeys of authors in the same way, while discussing their rich, multi-layered experiences that have been instrumental in shaping the books, being one with them in treasured moments in time.
Book Review: Exploring the Fiction of Patricia McCormick, the Crusading Journalist and Writer for Young Adults
My review of the bold, cutting-edge fiction work of award-winning novelist/author Patricia McCormick published in ‘Prairie Fire’ newspaper Volume 6 dated July 15, a commentary based on my interview with McCormick, the National Book Award finalist. In our brief discussions, we talked about her novels, ‘Sold’, based on her odyssey to Kolkata, India and her visit to the brothels that depicts the underbelly of the city and ‘Never Fall Down’, the narrative of Arn Chorn Pond, a rare survivor of the Cambodian revolution of the 70’s in Khmer Rouge, Cambodia.
To read the entire review, do visit this page from the July 2014 archive of ‘Prairie Fire’: