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Book review: Letters not so ordinary

books Updated: Apr 29, 2013 12:24 IST
Hindustan Times
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Author: Madhumita Mukherjee

Price: Rs. 195

Published by: Fingerprint!

Other sideTalk about a deviant or unusual narrative and this book stands out from the rest of the crowd like an apple in a box of mangoes. And a fresh one at that. Author Madhumita Mukherjee’s debut novel is a story of two people told through letters. Abhi and Uma, the protagonists in the book, share with each other their joys, their sorrows, their dreams, their reality, their love and it’s loss, their heart and life.

Though the book is slow paced and not something meant to be read in one sitting, it does have a subtle narrative which conveys more than what’s written, and manages to leave quite an impact on the reader. And the slightly subdued cover starts to make more sense once you are immersed in the story a little. The best part about the book though, is that it’s so meticulously written, that for once, you might do a double take and think if it was really a book written by a first time author and not someone who is adept in the art, with a lot of experience to speak of.

Overall, you might be left asking some questions in the end, but this is that kind of book which doesn’t beckon you from the shelf, but once you pick it up, you’ll not be disappointed.

Usama Sulaiman

Author: Amitabh Manu

Price: Rs. 195

Published by: Fingerprint Publishing

Tales with a twist,dictator style

SMGSurprise Me, Gentlemen, by Amitabh Manu, somehow reminded me of filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s horror flicks Darna Mana Hai and Darna Zaroori Hai. Not because I particularly liked those films, but just because both involve people telling interesting short stories that have a twist ending, as is the case in this work of fiction.

Here, there are 12 writers who are forced to compose and tell their stories, not to each other, but to a ruthless dictator of a nameless state. The aged dictator, who is now bored of waging wars and has more or less retired, has held the writers in captivity and orders them to write a story with a surprise ending over the next three days. Interestingly, he doesn’t reveal the reward for the best story, but warns of a death sentence to the author of the worst tale. The writers remain nameless, and are introduced by the genres they specialise in, crime, mystery, tragedy, comedy, drama, suspense, sci-fi, and so on.

My personal pick is the story by the science fiction writer, as it involves time travel, one of my favourite topics in fiction. But the other stories provide for a good read too.

Akshay Kapoor