Monthly Archives: January 2012

Review: The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

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New Review! This time, it’s not a graphic novel. It’s a regular book with no pictures even! O_0

This time, I reviewed Thrity Umrigar‘s The World We Found. Umrigar teaches Creative Writing at Case Western University and has written six books so far. The World We Found was just released. I’ve never read any of her other books, so if any of you have- let me know which ones you liked best.

 

Below is an excerpt and click here for the full review.

In late 1970, Armaiti, Nishta, Laleh and Kavita were best friends in college. They were rebellious, free spirited young women with a taste for political activism. Fast forward thirty years and they have all drifted apart. Laleh and Nishta marry their college sweethearts, Armaiti moves to America and marries an American, while Kavita, a successful architect, is a closeted lesbian. Once inseparable, they now live lives dominated not by political activism, but by the more urgent and delicate responsibilities of marriage, family and work. Yet Armaiti notes in her internal dialogue, “The four years of college now seemed to have gone by too quickly. There was no real explanation for why she had not stayed in closer touch after leaving for the US. Unless it was this: coming to America itself was a kind of defeat — the inaudible admission that their days as young radicals had drawn to a close.”

Review: Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary

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New review! This time I had a chance to read Keshni Kashyap‘s witty comic ‘Tina’s Mouth- an Existential Comic Diary‘. It’s about an Indian-American high school student whose English project is to keep a diary on existentialism.

I went to some pretty straight forward schools in India where all we did was sit and listen to our teachers read aloud from textbooks. It was only until I moved to Madras and went to Sishya that I was in a school where teachers worked really hard to engage us. Point being, I really like how in this book the teacher tries to engage his students by creating innovative projects.

I mean existentialism is a pretty heavy topic.

My first encounter with it was when I was read Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, which is basically a book about a young girl who starts receiving mysterious postcards from an anonymous source. The first one simply asks, ‘Who are you?’ The book then sees Sophie pretty much take a whirlwind tour of the history of philosophy. Her anonymous source is a philosopher called Albert Knox (whom she doesn’t meet or know anything about yet) and he acts as her philosophy tutor teaching her about all the great philosophers from Plato to Descartes and Kierkegaard. It was very engaging and to me, at the time 17, pretty mind-blowing. The climax- about the nature of reality, gave me goosebumps.

I’m not sure how much I would like the book as an adult though and that’s the same way I felt about Tina’s Mouth. I think, though, that teenagers would like it. The book greatest strength is Kashyap’s writing.

Here’s an excerpt of my review.

Fifteen-year-old Tina Malhotra’s life is thrown for a loop when her best friend since kindergarten, Alex, deserts her and starts hanging out with the popular kids. Alone but defiant, Tina chooses to spend her time on her existentialist diary — a project created by her teacher for his English class. Spouting wisdom straight from Jean Paul Sartre’s books, Tina attempts to navigate high school and life using Sartre as inspiration, mentor, and friend. Although Tina is certain that she is not like any of the other teenagers in her school, the existentialist project does spur her on a journey of self discovery. Interestingly, this self-discovery revolves around the one obsession that she does share with all the other teenage girls in her school: the hallowed, mysterious and magical first kiss. Or, in Tina’s case, the lack of one.”

Click here to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine.