Archive for August, 2022

I discovered Stela Brinzeanu’sSet in Stone‘ through Marina Sofia from ‘Finding Time to Write’ . The story looked beautiful and so I was excited to read it.

It is the medieval ages. We are in Moldova. Elina is a young noblewoman. She lives with her father. Her mother has passed. One day she crosses paths with Mira. Mira is the potter’s daughter who is hoping to become a potter herself one day. Magic happens. But this is the medieval ages. A woman falling in love with another woman and they both getting together is impossible. Also, their social divide is impossible to bridge. What happens to them forms the rest of the story.

At its core, ‘Set in Stone’ is a beautiful love story. But it is also much more than that. It depicts the lives of women in the middle ages and how everything was hard for them, how women who were healers were branded as witches, how people lived together as a community and helped each other out, the battle between different religions, the old and the new, how freedom was elusive whether one was poor or rich and how no one was truly free. At one point Elina asks her father, “What’s the use of all this if I can’t be free?” To which her father replies, “No one is really free, my dear. I’m at the behest of the voivode and he is a vassal of the Ottoman sultan, and so it goes. Real freedom doesn’t exist, and if it did, I’m not even sure we’d want it.

I loved most of the characters in the book (except the bad ones). Most of the women characters were fascinating and inspiring because they defied the restrictions imposed on them and tried to break free and express themselves and live beautiful lives. Stela Brinzeanu’s prose is soft and beautiful and brings that period alive. The conversations between Elina and Mira were cool and stylish and were such a pleasure to read.

I loved ‘Set in Stone’. This is the first ever book that I’ve read where the story is set in Moldova. Yay!  I’m so happy about that! Stela Brinzeanu has written another book set in Moldova during contemporary times. I can’t wait to read that!

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“‘At the heart of any storm, whether it’s around or inside you, there’s a place of quiet like no other. When you find that place, you gain such strength that nobody could ever take that away from you.”

“She watches the snowflakes swarming outside, as if they are choosing where to settle. Who is she fooling? Of course it isn’t up to them where they end up. It’s the invisible wind that’s tossing them about, teasing them with the promise of free will.”

“Elina thinks how much easier it is to communicate with animals. They perceive the world in silence, and they’re never wrong. Words are useless tools if you’re digging for truth, she thinks. They lie, deceive and distort. Only in the absence of words can there be truth. That’s why people talk, because they have something to hide.”

“Home isn’t really someone’s hut or manor, she thinks, but the place where your loved one is waiting for you.”

Have you read ‘Set in Stone’? What do you think about it?


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One day Naja Marie Aidt receives a call in the evening. The person at the other end says that her son is dead. Her son is twenty five years old. This tragedy devastates Naja Marie Aidt and her family. They say that the worst misfortune that can befall a person is when they have to bury their child. It happens to Naja Marie Aidt. It plunges her into a deep abyss of grief. And while she is grieving, she takes her pain and misfortune and creates art. And we have this book. So that we can read it, and we can grieve with her. And we can grieve for those we have loved and lost forever.

I’m sharing with you some of my favourite passages from the book.

“…Aristotle’s description of how a tragedy is structured. This description comes from his work Poetics. You choose a hero, someone you can identify with. A person, like anyone in the audience, with ordinary character traits and ordinary minor flaws, but who is one hair nobler, one hair better…

The tragic element begins when the hero commits hamartia, a fatal flaw or a fatal miscalculation. This fatal miscalculation is never malevolent, but is carried out with the best intentions. An action anyone in the audience could commit if the circumstances were in place. A small, insignificant action…

But the miscalculation in the tragedy is the triggering factor for peripeteia – a reversal of fortune. A reversal of fortune is the sudden shift from lucky to unlucky. In the reversal of fortune, you get caught by your good intentions…

Aristotle believed that tragedy after a reversal of fate would inspire fear and compassion in the audience. Compassion, for those who do not deserve trouble. Fear, when someone gets into trouble who, in many ways, is like ourselves. Our equal. The impact on the audience needs to be strong and gripping. The audience has to experience catharsis – a shock-like effect that makes the audience’s hair stand on end. And here is the crux of the tragedy and this entire unfortunate situation…

After the tragedy, the audience will leave the theatre feeling humble about their own ability to avoid trouble, and will think twice about looking down on one of their fellow human beings, whose life has ended in a failed situation. I hope that everyone with us today in this room will learn from this tragedy.”

“Nick Cave says in the film, ‘One More Time With Feeling (2016)’ : Most of us don’t want to change, really. I mean, why should we? What we do want is a sort of a modification of the original model. We keep on being ourselves, but just hopefully better versions of ourselves. But what happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that you just change? You change from a known person to an unknown person. So then, when you look at yourself in the mirror, you recognize the person that you were, but the person inside the skin is a different person.”

Have you read Naja Marie Aidt’s book? What do you think about it?

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Our unnamed narrator gets up from bed one day. He says that he has been lying on bed for the past nine months. And his wife has left him. And it is his fault. He proceeds to tell us the story. When the doorbell rings. A woman is standing outside. She wants his help in finding her father. Before long we are hurled into a world, where the narrator’s city has changed beyond recognition in the last nine months, and the story looks real before the narrator starts seeing people from his dreams in the real world and things turn increasingly surreal and then some mythical, magical creatures appear. What happens after that and whether the narrator is able to help in finding the woman’s father forms the rest of the story.

This is the surface level story. Of course, this is not all there is to it, and there is more to it than meets the eye. The nine months that the narrator spends in bed are the worst, most violent nine months in Bosnia in the ’90s, and when we realize that, the whole story takes on a totally different meaning and we see everything in new light. The monsters in the story are real-world people who did monstrous things, and the disappearances of family members is what most families went through. A reader who reads this book in Bosnian or Croatian or Serbian will catch all this on the first read and will be able to appreciate the metaphors of the story with a deeper resonance. But for an outsider like me, it took a while to figure things out.

Selvedin Avdić’s prose is beautiful and is filled with humour and is a pleasure to read. There are many footnotes in the book which were fascinating. The book has a foreword by Nick Lezard, who reviews books for ‘The Guardian’, which is very interesting.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“Then I thought that some music might help, recalling how it can easily change the atmosphere of any room. Do an experiment, if you don’t believe me. In a completely empty room, play different types of music and you will see how the shadows shift, the air stirs, the nuances of light change, as the room adjusts itself to the music, like the scene changing from act to act in the theatre. There is no such thing as complete silence. It does not exist. At least not in this world, maybe in outer space or in the bowels of the earth, where it’s only cold and dark.”

“Allah created this world so that it would be pleasing to an intelligent seven-year-old boy. That is what Ahmed said to me when I left his office. I think the thing that He made best was the morning. How I used to love the morning! I loved to drink coffee with Anđela and to make arrangements for the day, while morning was coming into the room. I loved every one of our conversations. I loved the little movements of her fingers around the cup. The scents, the clock ticking, the news on the radio…my whole body would relax. I could be alone with her for days, with her and the child in that little room. I used to tell her even prison would not be hard for me if we were together. Because, as the proverb says, if the household is never spiteful, the house is never too small. Mornings are now completely senseless. I imagine that they are still beautiful, but I can no longer notice.”

Have you read ‘Seven Terrors’? What do you think about it?

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I discovered Hanne Ørstavik’sLove‘ when I was looking at Archipelago Books’ catalogue last year. I got it at that that time, but never got around to reading it. Then I read Miracle’s (from ‘The Book-Butterfly) review of the book recently, and got inspired by it and decided to pick this book up. I finished reading it today in one sitting.

A single mother and her son have moved into a small town. It is the son’s birthday the next day. By an accident of circumstances, they both leave the home in the evening, and end up meeting strangers and having different adventures. You have to read the book to find out what happened next.

The story has only a few main characters. Nothing much happens in it. There is a lot unsaid which is there below the surface, waiting to burst out. Hanne Ørstavik’s offers a masterclass on the old creative writing rule – “Show, don’t tell”. Whether the author describes different kinds of love in the story, or whether she leaves the interpretations of love to our imagination – this is all up to discussion. You should read the book and ask yourself what you think about it.

My favourite character in the book was an old man who comes in the beginning. He was cool. But all the characters in the story were quite interesting. Hanne Ørstavik writing is soft and flows smoothly like the evening breeze.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book.

“She wants her hair to look like a cloud caressing her face.”

“She feels like they share something now. It feels like pushing a boat from the shore, the moment the boat comes free of the sand and floats, floats on the water.”

“The whisky is golden, like distilled fire.”

“I’ll sheathe us both in speechless intimacy, until we’re ready for the abruptness of words.”

“She thinks the speed at which a person reads says something about the kind of rhythm they possess, the way they are in life.”

“She feels the lure of sitting with a good book, a big thick one of the kind that leave an impression stronger and realer than life itself.”

Have you read Hanne Ørstavik’s book? What do you think about it?

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I read a couple of Croatian short story collections last year, one by Asja Bakić, and another by Miljenko Jergović, and loved them both. So I was very excited when I discovered this short story collection ‘New Croatian Short Story : Everything You Wanted But Had No Chance to Read‘.

This book features fourteen contemporary Croatian writers and it has twenty one stories. Most of the writers were new-to-me. I could recognize only Olja Savičević Ivančević, who was widely reviewed last year, and Zoran Ferić, who I discovered through a friend’s review of one of his books. But nearly all the writers seem to be well-known among Croatian readers, as they have been around for a while.

There is good news and bad news. The bad news first. The book was very hit-and-miss for me. Some of the stories were underwhelming, but some of the stories were wonderful. The second bad news is that out of the fourteen featured writers, only three were women. Croatian women writers are kicking ass these days, and so I was very surprised with that.

Now, the good news. When the stories were hits, they were amazing and I loved them. They straightaway waltzed into my list of favourites. Here are my favourites.

Zlatka by Maja Hrgović – This is a beautiful lesbian love story. I won’t tell you more. You should read it and find out what happened. I love this story so much that I want to read all the stories of Maja Hrgović now.

Crocodile by Senko Karuza – Two people get stuck in the middle of nowhere because their car breaks down. There is only one house nearby. When they knock the door, an old man opens it. He has a pool inside his house, and next to the pool is a crocodile. The old man says that his crocodile is unwell. What happens after that – whether the crocodile eats the two newbies and becomes well, or whether it is just a charming pet and this old man is just a kind human being – you have to read the story to find out. There were three other stories by Senko Karuza in the book, and I eagerly looked forward to reading them after I read ‘Crocodile’, but unfortunately, I didn’t like them as much. But ‘Crocodile’ was exceptional. It showed a master at work. It was beautiful, charming and it had the perfect ending. I wondered about the author’s name, Senko Karuza. It definitely didn’t look Croatian. His first name looked Japanese. Even his second name looked Japanese. I’m wondering whether this is his real name, or whether this is the name he uses while writing stories. I hope there is a translated short story collection of Senko Karuza out there, because I’d like to read it.

The Snake Collector by Jurica Pavičić – This is one of the longest stories in the book. It is set during the war in the ’90s. It is about the absurdity of war and the loss of innocence of young soldiers who think it is an adventure and volunteer for the first time, and how the violence of war changes them irrevocably. It is a beautiful and moving story.

Sheepskin by Josip Novakovich – Another war-adjacent story. A man is travelling by train when he bumps into someone who was his tormentor during the war. Thoughts of revenge rise in his heart. What happens after that forms the rest of the story.

When I was Nana Pila, Dead, but in my Prime by Zoran Malkoč – A man selling books knocks on the door of a house in a quiet village. The door is opened by an old man whose wife is unwell. This old man thinks that the visitor is the doctor. What happens after that forms the rest of the story. Beautiful, moving story with a heartwarming ending.

So, that’s it. If you stumble upon this book, or if you plan to read it, I’d suggest that you read these five stories first. Then if you feel upto it, maybe you can try dipping into the rest of the book.

Though this book was hit-and-miss for me, I’m glad I read it. Especially because I discovered Maja Hrgović, Senko Karuza, Jurica Pavičić and Josip Novakovich. I loved their stories and I hope to read more stories by them.

Have you read ‘New Croatian Short Story’? What do you think about it?

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I discovered Alina Bronsky’sMy Grandmother’s Braid‘ through a friend’s recommendation. I’ve wanted to read Alina Bronsky for a long time and so I decided to start with this.

Maxi lives with his grandma and grandpa. They are Russian refugees who have newly moved to Germany. Maxi’s grandma is white Russian, but his grandpa is Central Asian Russian. Maxi’s parents are not there on the scene, and we don’t know what happened to them. Maxi’s grandma is a dominant figure and runs the family like a matriarch. Maxi and his family become friends with their neighbour Nina, who is a single mom and her daughter Vera, who is Maxi’s age. Before long, Maxi discovers that his grandfather is in love with Nina, but his grandmother doesn’t seem to be aware of that.

What happens after that, does all hell break loose – you have to read the story to find out.

‘My Grandmother’s Braid’ is humorous and hilarious. When Maxi describes his conversations with his grandmother, or the events happening in their lives, it makes us laugh aloud most of the time. There are sentences like these, for example –

“She had my medical files with her, they were bound in leather and looked like the rediscovered handwritten manuscript of a lost classic.”

“Vera’s tactlessness fascinated me, and I put genuine effort into satisfying her curiosity.”

Maxi’s grandmother is a traditional matriarch who keeps making sharp comments, and if we take her seriously, we’ll not like her, but if we take a step back and keep her at arms-length and listen to her talk, we’ll find it hilarious and we can’t stop laughing. The humour is sharp and very Russian. The grandmother is a fascinating character. I loved most of the characters in the book, especially Maxi’s grandfather, who keeps quiet most of the time, but we soon discover that there is more to him than meets the eye.

There is a mention of Russian condensed milk in the book (‘sgushyonka’) which made me smile. It is something that I’ve wanted to try for many years, because everyone who has tried it,  raves about it, but it is not easily available where I live. Many years back when I visited my Russian friend, she took out a tin of sgushyonka and asked me to try some, and like an idiot, I didn’t. I’ve bitterly regretted it ever since. I hope in this life, I get to try it once.

I loved ‘My Grandmother’s Braid’. I can’t believe that I’ve waited so long to read an Alina Bronsky book. I want to read her first book ‘Broken Glass Park‘ soon. It seems to have a totally different kind of plot, and I want to find out whether it is as humorous as this one.

Have you read ‘My Grandmother’s Braid’? What do you think about it?

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We’ve all heard of ‘Hurricane Season’. Well, this is not that 😊 In these parts, it is ‘Dry Season‘ 😊 With Gabriela Babnik.

A woman in her sixties is walking through the streets of Burkina Faso. She meets a man in his twenties. Sparks fly. What happens next? She is in her sixties, he is in his twenties. She is white, he is black. Will this work? You have to read the book to find out.

I loved the central premise in the book. I haven’t read many (=any) spring–autumn romances, especially in literary fiction, especially in which the woman is older. It is common in movies and TV shows. But I haven’t seen many books featuring this. So that was wonderful. Gabriela Babnik’s prose is elegant and is a pleasure to read. I loved that. The story is narrated by the two lovers alternatively. They talk about their past and how they came to be where they were in the present. I loved those parts which delved on their past history. The parts in which they talked about their relationship and about each other – I found them hit and miss. Sometimes I loved those parts, sometimes I found them underwhelming.

One of the things I love reading in books is the description of food. There is a description of a Burkina Faso food in the book – “tô, kneaded balls of dough soaked in sesame sauce.” I want to try that 😊

Towards the end, the story has a cinematic climax, which in my opinion felt thrust in. I would have loved it when I was younger. But now, I was a little bit disappointed. But the book has won widespread acclaim and won awards. So probably, the problem is with me and not with the book.

I am glad I read ‘Dry Season’. It has many things to recommend it. It is also my first Slovenian book 😊 So, yay! My dream is to read atleast one book from every language from the Balkan region. Till now I’ve read Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Slovenian books. Only Montenegrin and Macedonian are left. Looking forward to reading them also soon.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“In fact, I don’t really know how it is with the body – when, exactly, does it start to decline, when does it surrender to that cold blast of wind, not asking, not hoping anymore, that things might change for the better? The only comfort is the here and now, which becomes the best you’ve got.”

“I swore to myself that I would learn to make sentences, not just letters and words, but long weaving sentences, and would someday write it all down in the dust, in the ground, in the earth. And when somebody looks down at my writing from above, their heart, from all the beauty of it, will cling to their inner walls and simply stand still.”

“Should I be like other elderly people who sit in remote villages and gaze into the fire and at certain rare moments think their life could have encompassed something other than simply what it is now? Or like the elderly lady who watches people’s faces through the window of a café, people too preoccupied to return her look? All my life I had lived the way other people wanted me to live, my mother, my father, my son, my ex-husband, my customers; all my life I had been the person they wanted to see. I could remember periods of my life lived through as somebody else, so now I had no need to pretend. So all those men sitting at that low table, and the woman by the window – I was able to return their gaze.”

“The desire to have a baby was, for him, a form of control, but there’s nothing new about that. It happened to generations before me and even a generation or two after me, and it undoubtedly happened to the women I was watching from under the mango tree.”

“Nowhere does evening come the way it does in the desert. The darkness comes over you so suddenly you sit in front of it motionless. It swarms a while through your entire body, then settles in your feet, and all you can do is light a paraffin lamp. The mosquitoes gather in formation around it, and you have to shoo them away with your hand.”

“The frog does not know there are two kinds of water if he never falls into the hot kind.”

Have you read ‘Dry Season’? What do you think about it?

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I discovered David Albahari through a friend’s recommendation, and decided to read his most recent book ‘Checkpoint‘.

A unit of soldiers and their commander are taken to a place in the middle of nowhere and are asked to create a checkpoint and manage it. They don’t know anything about the war going on, and who is the enemy. Nothing happens at the checkpoint. There is no one coming from either side and the days just pass by. As the narrator says –

“So we guarded a checkpoint where nobody was checked and peered through our binoculars at landscapes through which no one passed. If there was a war still on somewhere, we knew nothing about it. No shots were fired, there was no zinging of bullets, no bomb blasts, no helicopter clatter, nothing.”

What happens after that – are the soldiers just ‘waiting for Godot’, or does war enter this quiet place and does something happen – this is told in the rest of the story.

‘Checkpoint’ is a darkly comic satire. It is about the meaningless nature of war, during which innocent people get killed, and nothing good happens. David Albahari has been compared to Kubrick and Kafka and we can see why. (I’ll also add Joseph Heller to the mix.) Albahari’s dark humour makes us laugh in many places, and it also makes us think.

I enjoyed reading ‘Checkpoint’. David Albahari has written many books, but only a few are easily available in English translation. I found that a couple of them are available, and I hope to read them soon.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“No one wanted to die. Even for such a noble cause as defending the homeland. What could possibly be noble about a violent death? And the stupidest part of all was that afterwards this would become fodder for people who’d had no experience at all with it, with death. How can a living person understand someone who’s dead, understand what a gunshot victim thinks as the bullet rips through his flesh…”

“A wiseguy would say that the real barriers are the ones within us, and that the external ones, like the checkpoint, are, in fact, futile. Mumonkan, an ancient collection of Zen tales, speaks of all this with eloquence, but no one among us soldiers had Buddhist texts in mind, especially none of the amateur soldiers, society’s dregs, who were generally blasé about warfare. Professional soldiers, like samurai, are another story, and among them one may find connoisseurs of the Mumonkan and Hagakure, even lovers of the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the music of Edvard Grieg. Yes, it is one thing to be a samurai and altogether different to be an ordinary recruit who, when he opens his eyes in the morning, cares not a whit for himself or for the world.”

“War is so unnatural, so different from all else, that no one in their right mind can grasp why war would be a part of human culture. The commander turned—he ought to love war at least a little, being a man in uniform, but he couldn’t bring himself to. Never would he admit this to his soldiers. But he also couldn’t abandon them to this hell. So like a good fairy he hovered over their preparations for departure.”

“You could see right away, thought the commander, that he was one of those people bullets didn’t want to hit. There aren’t many folks who enjoy that kind of luck, though they’ll pay for it elsewhere, as things tend to go with good and bad luck. Life is impartial, it plays no favorites. If a person is offered something that is not equally accessible to all in equal measure, they’ll also be given something bad, meaning they’ll be greater losers in other realms. So the radio and telegraph operator, say, was spared the bullets, but he often tripped and fell, and it may have been a fall that additionally shielded him from bullets. The radio and telegraph operator may have stumbled exactly when the fingers of three snipers were on their triggers, and his tumble removed him from the enemies’ field of vision.”

“…the sky began to redden and the shadows, hidden until then by the dark, began shivering with anticipation. In no time they’d be venturing into the world, all they needed was to be told whether to go in front of or behind the soldiers. Shadows have a way of moving slowly and faltering, but when they finally make up their minds, their resolve is legendary. And so, when the soldiers set out on their “punitive expedition,” as the commander noted in his ledger, the shadows followed behind the soldiers, fused to their heels. When the soldiers returned, the shadows were still swinging from their heels, but with none of the earlier joy. In a word, the shadows on that brief journey downhill and uphill aged quickly, perhaps a little too quickly. Anyone would have aged who’d seen what the shadows saw; it’s enough to say they became darker, more somber, more hermetically sealed. Who knows what they might have said if only they’d had skill with words.”

Have you read ‘Checkpoint’? What do you think about it?

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I discovered Marina Šur Puhlovski’sWild Woman‘ in an interesting way. I was looking for more translations by Christina Pribićević-Zorić, because she had translated two of my favourite books, ‘Dictionary of the Khazars‘ and ‘Zlata’s Diary‘. And that is how I stumbled upon ‘Wild Woman’.

The story starts with a young woman in an apartment with her dog. The apartment is in a mess. There is no food and the woman and her dog are literally scraping the barrel. This woman tells us what happened, and how events led to this situation. She takes us back by many years, when she first went to college and met a guy on the first day, and sparks started to fly. What happened after that – you have to read the book to find out.

‘Wild Woman’ is a beautiful, dark, heartbreaking book. It describes what happens when we fall in love, and things don’t go as we expect, and how sometimes we fall into a bottomless abyss from which we find it impossible to extricate ourselves.

I loved ‘Wild Woman’, though the word ‘love’ doesn’t begin to describe what I feel about it. It was powerful and moving and heartbreaking, and it pulled my heartstrings and it made me angry and it made me scream. Sometimes it felt like I was reading a contemporary version of the Ingrid Bergman movie ‘Gaslight‘.

Marina Šur Puhlovski’s prose is beautiful and I couldn’t stop highlighting my favourite passages. She has been writing for a while, but it appears that this is her only book which has been translated into English. Wish more of her work gets translated.

I’ll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

“What hurts is what you don’t have. And it hurts, say the experts, because the brain won’t accept that you no longer have what you once did, what it still remembers, and so it turns its absence into the pain of loss, which keeps going back to the beginning. That’s my story, I guess. Because if it weren’t, then I wouldn’t be sitting here for three days now, incapable of extricating myself from it.”

“I stepped out like a sleepwalker, in my nightgown, barefoot, at that magical moment in the morning that belongs to the surrounding forest, when life wakes up and you are filled with this sense of awakening, as at the dawn of humankind, when the first human realised that he was alive, because he hadn’t known it before, it came to him suddenly. And it’s no different today, the wonder of life remains hidden from us during the day, and turns into fear at night, and it is only like this in the early morning that we understand it, when we are alone and when it’s spring and when the forest within us breathes, or the sea within us breathes, when we imbue each other.”

“A magical wonder is when something doesn’t look real but is, I realised as they took me around – like the way Plitvice’s waters forged their own paths through the rocks and bushes, through the grey and green, through the air and earth, creating a work of art out of nature, making it look like child’s play, untaught, becoming a work of art in itself, based on some primeval memory. It was as if we became a work of art ourselves, rather than creating one, a higher form of existence that we did not sufficiently appreciate, because it eluded us, I thought, walking with my feet in the moss and ferns and my head in the air.”

“What else is love except a kind of blindness, I reflected, you see what you want, what you like, what catches your fancy, what makes you grow, you see what you need but you don’t see what you don’t need. When you see what you don’t need you try not to see it, to attribute it to a random instance, to hide it from yourself, because you compare what you see with the ideal that they’ve drummed into your head and try to make it fit that ideal. Sometimes it more or less works, unless you completely fail, because basically you always fail, but even an approximation is something, at least it’s bearable. The world exists on the basis of approximation. But it’s awful when it turns out that what you get is not even close, that it’s the exact opposite, that you had imagined somebody else! And, of course, he helped you along, he tried to be what he thought you wanted him to be, not what he was, but he could pretend to be what you wanted until he captured you, until he took away your freedom, in life and, worst of all, within your inner self, because the hardest thing was to save yourself from yourself. By saving him I was saving myself from myself, I realised, from the debt of love, I supposed, a debt you couldn’t just discard as if it never existed, it doesn’t exist now but it did, it was your life and if it is worthless then so are you and your life; how do you live with that?”

“…gazing at the early autumn greenery that has only just started to turn yellow and red and to decay, a moment with no continuation, but all the same a moment that existed, that fell into place with everything else that existed, the unreal attaching itself to the real which, once it passes, itself seems unreal, and passes in a heartbeat, as if it had never existed, but you know that it did, and so a vicious circle.”

You can find Marina’s (from ‘Finding Time to Write’) beautiful review of the book here.

Have you read ‘Wild Woman’? What do you think about it?

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When I discovered a few days back that Sara Naveed’s new book ‘The Cold Heart‘ was coming out, I was very excited. Sara Naveed mostly writes romance fiction, but each of her books focuses on a particular topic, which make her books fascinating. I’ve read most of Sara Naveed’s books and so was looking forward to reading this one.

Zaira is a student at the university. She is studying literature and is hoping to become a writer after finishing her course. Zaira doesn’t have any family. Both her parents have passed. Zaira has an elder sister Zoha, but they are estranged and they haven’t spoken for years. One day Zaira gets a message from her sister asking her if they could meet. After some reluctance, Zaira agrees. This chance message  leads to one thing after another, as Zaira is hurled into a succession of events in which she doesn’t have any control, and before long someone is dead and the needle of suspicion points to different people she cares about, and the pages of the story zip by rapidly as we try to find out what happened during that fateful night.

The Cold Heart‘ is very different from other Sara Naveed books. It has romance, of course, which Sara Naveed fans expect and look forward to. But it is a thriller, and it is a dark thriller. There is a sharp edge to it and as the events of the story unfurl, it is hard to tell who is a good person and who is bad, and sometimes we seem to see or maybe imagine some hazy clues below the surface and even suspect the narrator. I can’t tell you anything about the plot though and what happens in it. You have to read the book and enjoy its pleasures yourself.

I enjoyed reading ‘The Cold Heart’ and I read it in one breath. It is fast-paced and gripping, and the pages turn rapidly with a life of their own as we zip through to the end to discover the mystery.

Have you read ‘The Cold Heart’ or other Sara Naveed books? Which one is your favourite?

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