In 1946 three sisters, Deepa, Priya and Jamini live in a village not far from Calcutta. Their father, a doctor, is bent on helping the poor who cannot afford to pay for his services, forcing the family to live a frugal life. Deepa, the most beautiful and favoured by her mother, convinces her father to take them to Calcutta where they stay in her father’s best friend and neighbour, Somnath’s mansion. Somnath’s son, Amit volunteers to join them so he can be near Priya. But once they arrive in Calcutta riots break out that changes the course of the family’s lives forever.
Shehan Karunatilaka’s—The seven moons of Maali Almeida *****
Reviews from the Guardian and the Times referred to this novel as “often funny” and crediting the story with “tremendous imagination.” I couldn’t disagree more. It appeared as if these reviewers knew nothing about Sri Lankan history because there was nothing funny about thousands of bodies hacked to pieces so they couldn’t be identified and dumped into a Colombo lake. Nor anything imaginative about these facts because that’s what they were—historical facts. What was clever about Karunatalaka’s writing was that Almeida, his main character is killed, and oversees these crimes as a ghost thereby telling the tale from an omnipotent viewpoint.Continue reading “Shehan Karunatilaka’s—The seven moons of Maali Almeida *****”
Janie Chang—The Porcelain Moon
Uncle Louis is sent with Theo and Pauline from Shanghai by the Deng family to start an antique business in Paris. He plans to arrange his son, Theo’s marriage and set him up in the business so he can return to China. But Theo manages to delay the arranged marriage first by further education, then finally by working as an interpreter for the British during WW1. When Pauline learns her uncle’s first wife is arranging her marriage, she is desperate to find her cousin to help her convince her uncle not to send her back to China. She rushes to Noyelles where Theo has been working with Chinese labourers but is distressed and fearful by what she discovers.
Every Janie Chang book I’ve read has been a five out of five. This one delves into a neglected part of World War1’s history that I had never read about which is seen through the eyes of its main characters—Theo and Pauline Deng and their friend Henri Liu, a Chinese journalist.
Rin Usami—Idol Burning *****
Akari is so wrapped up in her obsession over Masaki Ueno who is a member of the J-pop band, Masa Masa, she cannot concentrate on her schoolwork, her room is a mess, and she forgets to eat. While her father works overseas, her mother and sister are frustrated by her forgetful ways. She works part-time in a seedy bar where all her earnings go into buying Masa Masa merchandise. And the only time she communicates with others is when she blogs and comments with other Masa Masa fans.
Can she overcome this obsession enough to complete her studies or will it take something out of her control to pull her back to reality?
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