Ever since the pandemic began, I had begun to appreciate every single day that passes uneventfully. I’m glad that the first month of this year brought me little successes at work and joy through these wonderful books, despite the omicron scare looming over my close friends. My non-covid regular sickness lasted only for 5 days in this month, so yay to that! I’m currently busy doing a session for Quora Telugu on creative writing and couldn’t find enough time to review these at length. This brief post is to share my excitement in bits, and also thank the people who brought them to me.
PIRANESI: Susanna Clarke
I hardly read fantasy fiction, but my good friend Santwana not only gifted me this book but also stimulated my appetite with some amazing reviews. I’d decided to read it “only for craft!” But boy, what a special feeling of meditative calmness I had experienced when I finished it! A never-before experience! Like I was in the middle of an ocean or at the top of a mountain. Serene calmness.
If there’s one word for this book, it is empathy. The empathy of the writer and her kindness fills the protagonist up to the brim, which spills onto us, as we keep reading. It is about other worlds, knowledge, language, crime in academia. But it is also about solitude, sanity, survival and kindness. Such an incredibly lovely book! I’m gonna adopt Piranesi mentally!
THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS: Pip Williams
I came across this book on @Swapna Peri’s wall and immediately googled it. Given it is historical fiction about the making of the Oxford dictionary in the early 20th century, I’d picked up this as well to “study the craft.” The narration is brilliant at places, especially in the beginning chapters. Then, it loses its steam and meanders in too many directions. I wonder if first person narration was the limiting factor for the narrative to really flourish. Nevertheless, a well researched book. I’m glad I stuck with it through the end. The end-notes which detail how the author went about her research is a treat!
PRESENT TENSE MACHINE: GUNNHILD ØYEHAUG
I’d become her fan after reading her short story collection, Knots, a few years ago. There was no way I couldn’t resist when Kindle sent a notification about her new work.
What could I one write about such a mind-bending book! It’s science-fiction, about parallel universes. It’s about universes created, but universes of loss and longing, of repent and reproach. It is also meta-fiction! (Hello, we’re talking about a European writer here.)
There’s a lot about words and their workings, of how limited our worlds are because of how limited our words are! In less than 200 pages, she told a story that has a beginning, a middle, and no end, because the story continues to tell its story to itself. How do they even think of these! I wanna hack into those brains!
Phew! I’m glad all these three are women writers. #readmorewomen – definitely. But I’m also glad at the variety and richness in terms of genres. I’m in the process of unlearning that literature means literary fiction. I’m learning that literature is anything that tells us who we’re, who we could be, and why we aren’t! Thanks to the beautiful friends for making my helping me have such a blast!