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Book reviews

The Aleph and Delayed Monsoon are the two books which are a must to catch up this month.

books Updated: Nov 13, 2011 00:18 IST
Soumya Mukerji
Soumya Mukerji
Hindustan Times

Coelho takes the train after long, goes far

Book: The Aleph

Author: Paulo Coelho

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: Rs. 325

If you, like me, have read each one of Coelho’s books, or even some, comparison is bound to creep in. Even if you try your best to keep that at bay knowing no two writings must be sized up against each other even if by the same person, and certainly not if the author picked up his pen a decade after his last bestseller. Only, it does. But, The Aleph is a different place, one where he has never taken you before, both in plot and continent.

booksThe autobiographical tale, as are most of his others, traces his journey to overcome the tedium of sitting on his laurels and losing the very connect that fetched him those. So, he takes the Trans-Siberian railway, the longest in the world, which spans the Eurasian subcontinent and seven different time zones, across sub zero temperatures, to find himself again. There, he comes face to face with a character from one of his past lives — one whom he owes important answers to, and a Chinese interpreter who is still struggling with his own maladies.

Time turns timeless in a zone after which the book is named. Then, there are the golden lines, the simplified sermons, shamans — all the signature spiritual stuff ... only, about a man who perhaps, like you, has lost touch with the self and all things sublime in the dreary life of the day.

You won’t necessarily want to go into your past life given the great mess we need to deal with in our present one, but you’ll definitely want to take the Trans-Siberian tour after this. soumya mukerji

Aleph what?

Aleph is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Traditionally, it stands for "first", "sacrificial ox", and "one thousand", and is considered the symbol of spiritual transformation. Jewish mysticism relates Aleph to the element of air, The Fool of the major arcana of the tarot deck.

Love, desires, dilemma...
Book: Delayed Monsoon
Author: Chitralekha
Publisher: Cedar books
Price: Rs. 150

The story revolves around Abhilasha — a housewife and mother of a grown up girl — who longs for love. Her husband has no time for her and her daughter is busy with her college life. So, Abhilasha in search of love, moves on to looking for a bond over the internet and ends up falling in love with a man. Chitralekha writes about Abhilasha’s dreams, desires and failures that she faces bravely and emerges as a successful woman. This love story deals with love on a level where passion turns into compassion. Abhilasha’s dilemmas and quest for love is portrayed well through a straight narrative, and description of feelings and emotions in vivid details, though it lacks dialogue many times.

Sometimes, even for as long as a page or two. Now, getting back to the story…. Though brought up in a conservative manner, Abhilasha is very determined but she adjusts and adapts to the Air force life. There are some hilarious and heart-rending incidents connected with this life. Many women can identify with Abhilasha’s character, which has been sensitively penned down by the author. Overall, the book makes for an interesting read, but does get stretched at times.

First Published: Nov 12, 2011 18:58 IST