Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Our own Daphne Du Maurier

After a long long time, I have come across a book, which is not a murder mystery or does not classify to be a thriller, which I was not able to put down. And no, it is not because of the story, it is because of the writing style. Well, that should not undermine the story which must be given the credit for being unique too.
We have had many authors of Indian origin doing well in the international literary circles. Inspite of their achievements, the writing style would be uniquely Indian. Take for example R.K.Narayan or V.S.Naipaul. The settings, the characters, the stories mostly revolve around India or Indians or people who reflect the Indian mindset. Over the years I had begun to believe that Indians cannot write like Gabriel García Márquez or Daphne Du Maurier and why should they?
That Summer in Paris by Abha Dawesar was a pleasant surprise which changed the notion that authors of Indian origin cannot paint with words. I was struck by the beauty of words used by the author. I had not experienced such urge to keep on reading a book just to find out how is the author going to construct her next sentence since I read Rebecca by Du Maurier.
Read this: "The spoken word was more fluid than the written; it could be modified with new words and adapt itself to the situation". This sentence made me rethink my belief that writing down once's feelings is more appropriate than speaking them. Spoken words are definitely more fluid, hence may be more expressive. Some expressions cannot be written about.
On the other hand this senence: "...the yin and yang of my life, the occident and orient, have really been about whether to devour all your books swiftly-for the pleasure of the moment, or to abstain-so that a new one and its promises are always on the horizon"...is exactly the way I used to feel when I was reading "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts. I don't think anyone else could have put it so beautifully. I had started associating with Shantaram so much that I did not want the story to ever get over. Everyday I would deliberately restrain myself from reading too many pages so that I could keep on reading the book for more number of days. And the day I finished reading the book, I felt a kind of emptiness. I felt a kind of loss which is difficult to write down, reinstating the authors words that "The spoken word was more fluid than the written".That Summer in Paris is not the first book by Abha Dawesar. Her previous work "Babyji" was also critically acclaimed and recieved many awards. Though, I must admit that Babyji gave me the impression of another one of those Indian authors trying to get recognition by overtly using sex and desire as the theme. I found it a grotesque narration of a confused, zealous, curious and perhaps a perverted girl.
But, with her latest book, Abha Dawesar has taken a leap which puts her in the same league as Du Maurier, Gabriel García Márquez or Lord Byron, in my eyes. In some of the places, her sentences reminded me of "She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron. Read this: "The point at which it diverges from reality is exactly where it becomes true. Its so strange. By being so unreal, it creates reality". Please don't get me wrong. What I mean is that the creation of her sentences struck me just like the creation of Lord Byron's sentences. Ofcourse Ms. Dawesar is only three books old (have not read her first book Miniplanner) and has a long way to go. It might be too early to shower so much praise on her. But then I am only talking about this one book. And That Summer in Paris is worth all the praise.
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