Skip to main content

The Faces of Strangers - Pia Padukone

Reading about other cultures has always fascinated me. I remember, even as a child I used to look forward to this programme called ‘My Beautiful House’ on the Discovery Kids channel where one was given a brief summary of life in another culture specifically food, clothes, practices etc. The content was of course tailor made to suit children.
Anthropology as a subject interested me in college but I didn’t pursue it for one reason or another. It has however remained a focal point of personal interest leading me to seek out not just books but also related media. ‘The Faces of Strangers’ by Pia Padukone appealed to me for this very reason as it gave me the opportunity to gain insight into a different culture.
The book revolves around a student exchange programme between America and Estonia. I loved reading about Estonia – its natural beauty, food, economic crises and its historical relations with the then Soviet Union. The culture was beautifully drawn out through the Estonian characters – Paavlo the student, his family and their daily lifestyle. The difference between American and Estonian cultures was also highlighted but what stood out is the underlying humanness that connects us all irrespective of where we come from.
Along with addressing cultural aspects the book also sheds light on a condition called prosopagnosia, which is the inability to recognise faces. The title of the book therefore has been cleverly coined as it manages to capture the essence of both themes. The narrative is presented from each character’s point of view which lends enough cadence for character development especially for that of Paavlo and Nico (his American counterpart).
Padukone’s writing is crisp. I particularly enjoyed her use of language e.g. “But fear clung to him like a straitjacket, pinning his arms to his sides and rendering him helpless” which kept me engaged through the course of the book. Although this is Padukone’s second book, it is my first experience of her work, which I am pleased to say, has been an enjoyable one. My sincere thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.


Popular posts from this blog

Sab Moha Maya Hai - For The Sake of Valentine's Day!

14th February, Valentine’s Day. A day we are told we must “celebrate” as it epitomises this wonderful emotion that we as humans are capable of – Love.

“So, what are your plans for the day?” I was asked this question about a million times today and all I said was “Oh! I don’t know, I’m very unromantic!” to which I got responses like “But it’s the day of love” or “Come on! you need to celebrate love!” and so on. Having reflected upon this small talk that people often engage in to ease the awkward silences, I felt the need to put my thoughts to paper about the difference between romance and love as I find the two are often confused- one for the other. Romance is an expression of love, not love itself. Love is when you consistently strive for the wellbeing of another despite it causing you discomfort or pain. It is unconditional, not based on trivialities like tokens of affection which have sadly come to become measures of the extent of love. If you buy me a cake, you love me 30%, a design…

Serving Crazy With Curry - Amulya Malladi

Food! - That wonderful part of our existence that not only plays the essential role of providing daily sustenance but is also an archetype of culture and tradition. For me, food is a meaningful catalyst to creating unforgettable memories and associations. There are certain foods that I associate with certain events or significant people in my life. I also seek comfort in food be it a hot bowl of dal rice after a hard day at work or a sneaky piece of chocolate as a reward for achieving something (Yes, I do apply the principles of behavioural psychology to my own life!)
I first came across Amulya Malladi’s books in London’s local libraries. I was impressed that her books are well stocked which is an indication of their popularity. I read a couple of these books and soon found out the reason for this. Two words – Writing and Characters! Her writing is immensely engaging and her characters threaten to come alive page by page. This certainly applies to ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’.
Devi, our …

Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma

I was delighted to receive this book for review from Penguin UK. Having grown up with memories of the Penguin logo in almost every bookshop I visited, it felt wonderful to be recognised as a reviewer by this world renowned publishing house. 'Flesh and Bone and Water' has nothing to do with South Asia. However, the commonality it shares with the region is that it is set in Brazil, a place that is often referred to as also being part of the 'third world' group of nations. "It's easy to leave a place when you're young. Coming back is harder. That's my advice : stay where you are." And so begins this beautiful novel which I would term as part coming of age and part an immigrant's journey from Brazil to Londres (London). More importantly why does the protagonist Andre venture back on a journey to his childhood home? The author Luiza Sauma has very poignantly narrated the story in first person so it feels like Andre is telling you his own story. You…