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Showing posts from June, 2017

Salt Houses - Hala Alyan

‘Salt Houses’ – I found the title intriguing and when I read the synopsis of the book it started making sense…. I soon realised the beauty of the metaphor.

The book maps the experiences of a Palestinian family across 4 generations (from the 1960s to 2000s). It talks about displacement by making references to war and/or conflict and it is through the characters that the emotional upheaval that often accompanies this process is effectively brought to light by Hala Alyan. The Israel – Palestine unrest, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the terror attack of the twin towers of the world trade centre in America all lend a melancholic backdrop to the story.

Along with displacement, the book addresses the most natural human response to displacement - the need for belonging. Consider this paragraph where Alyan has brilliantly captured this need “She touches the sumptuous fabrics of a curtain display, plucking items off the shelves as she walks. Throw pillows, a juicer, picture frames. It…

A Daughter's Courage - Renita D'Silva

I have always admired Renita D’silva’s writing style as it manages to strike a right chord by combining emotion, drama and some sort of connection to the characters’ past. It would be wrong of me to not admit that her stories are set in Karnataka and that instantly helps me relate a lot more to the characters and setting. I love reading her descriptions of Karnataka’s villages, its people and even food!

‘A Daughter’s Courage’ her latest novel makes references to all these aspects and a lot more. It brings to fore the often ignored ‘Devadasi’ practice whereby young girls are groomed to “serve” the temple deity (Goddess Yellamma), priests and rich landlords. In summary, it is prostitution in the name of religion and tradition. It is shocking to note that this practice is still carried out in certain remote parts of Karnataka. Part of the book is set in colonial India so we are also given a glimpse into the lives of British tea plantation owners and their interactions with the “natives”.…