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Friday 24 October 2014

Author spotlight and Interview: Purba Chakraborty


Congratulations on the publication of your book, “The Hidden Letters”.

The story of an author, a loving wife, and doting mother, whose peaceful life turns upside down. The epicenter of this turmoil is her past. And in an intriguing story unfolds the destiny of Anaya.

Question: So, tell us moments that were very special while writing this book?
Answer: Thank you so much.
I had a wonderful time writing this book. The scenes of Anaya and Olivia reminded me of my mother and I wondered if she would have been alive today, I would have shared a similar relationship with her. Some chapters also made me deeply emotional. I remember I cried like anything after penning down a chapter. And finally when I completed the book, the joy and relief that I got was incredible. I was so happy for my protagonist, Anaya.

Question: You have created women characters that a reader identifies with, portrayed as women of substance, opinionated and strong. Was it a deliberate attempt or did it flow in the story?
Ans:  It was quite deliberate. When the plot of “The Hidden Letters” struck my mind, I wanted to create a woman protagonist who is very strong and dignified and yet vulnerable. Someone who has flaws and who makes mistakes but her compassion, patience and love will be able to touch hearts of readers.

Question: All writers draw from their everyday life, what was it in the novel that has been heavily borrowed from yours?
Ans: The plot of the book was not borrowed from my life but the characters of this book are largely inspired by real life characters who I know personally.

Question: This one is tricky: Blogging or writing?
Ans: I started blogging even before my first book was published. So blogging has been an integral part of my life. However now after writing 2 books, I want to dedicate more time to writing. But if I don’t write at least 3 blog posts in a month, I feel awful and culpable.

Question: Should we judge a book by its story or by the book’s commercial success? We would love to hear your take on this!
Ans: We should definitely judge a book by its story and not by its commercial success. A book’s commercial success depends largely on the marketing and promotion of the book. Even if a bad book gets marketed in the right way, it will be a commercial successful novel. There are plenty of such hyped books in the market that can barely touch even one reader’s heart. Every good writer may not be capable of marketing and promoting his books in the best possible way but that does not make him a less good writer. If a person is genuinely interested in reading good books, he should check out reviews by some good book reviewers rather than relying on a book’s commercial success.

Question: Do you believe that only happy endings work in novels, as far as the Indian readers or the Indian set-up is concerned?
Ans: There is a huge set of readers who only read books that have happy endings. If they come to know somehow that the book has a tragic ending, they won’t even read it. I really find this logic funny but that’s how it is. Many people read fiction to escape reality. Happy endings make them feel happy whereas tragic endings land them back to reality. Everyone might like a book with a happy ending but everyone would not like a book that has a tragic or incomplete ending.

Thanks for your time and answers. We wish you the best of luck for your book! And hoping to read more from you!

Sunday 12 October 2014

White Lady By Jessica Bell: Blog Tour


To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell's latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

If there was one thing Jessica Bell could change on her body, it would be her ...
a. nose
b. ankles
c. arms

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.


*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she's rehabilitating herself as a "normal" mother and mathematics teacher, it's time to stop dreaming about slicing people's throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne's leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she's determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover's daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia's back. It isn't long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia's motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

Saturday 11 October 2014

Why I recommend: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

About the book:

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting . . .

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by the elite "valuation" firm of Underwood Samson. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his infatuation with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.
About the author:

Mohsin Hamid
Mohsin Hamid is a Pakistani author best known for his novels Moth Smoke (2000), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (2013).His fiction has been translated into over 30 languages, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, featured on bestseller lists, and adapted for the cinema. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, and the Paris Review, and his essays in the Guardian, the New York Times, and the New York Review of Books. Born in 1971, he has lived about half his life, on and off, in Lahore. He also spent part of his early childhood in California, attended Princeton and Harvard, and worked for a decade as a management consultant in New York and London, mostly part-time.
Why I recommend:

Here is why I would recommend this book to everyone. Everyone, at least once, irrespective of their nationality, religion, color et cetera et cetera.

1. The conversational style:
The book has been written as a conversation between a Pakistani who used to work with a valuation firm in America and an American tourist, one might surmise. It is actually a proof of how there can in fact exist a conversation without one of the persons having any word to say. Yes, this conversation between two people is a monologue. This is one of those unique characteristics of the book that you arr able to retain for long after you have read it. If for nothing else, read the book for this uncanny, pleasant presentation, formally known as the Dramatic Monologue.

2. Exploration of themes like Human fallibility, Identity crisis 
No book has ever depicted human fallibility, a screwed sense of judgement and the inevitable return to the motherland, so accurately and so curtly as this. It manages to capture the agonies and apprehensions of a Pakistani in the post 9/11 era. His lost sense of dignity. That feeling of being torn between an impossible love affair and a loyalty towards the motherland

3. The big things in life.
As the narrator confides the story of his life to an American Stranger at a cafe in Lahore, it is like a memoir. We fell a sharp tinge of pain, a surge of emotions in the honest way that the narrator, Changez reveals all little secrets of his life, facts privy to him in a brutally honest admission.And then it strikes you somewhere in the middle of the plot. You may whine about petty stuff, ...over trivial material things. Eventually you are doomed to understand that none of this matters. None of this suffices to give you solace in times of need. You cannot warm up to a job that no longer excites you. You cannot gulp down a glass of beer when your brotherhood is in a turmoil of sorts. You cannot find peace with money.

4. A recurring theme: Your past
The fact that the narrator is so nostalgic about the life he had, about how he fantasized it could have turned out differently had some things not been the way they were, And man's tendency or rather reluctance to let go of this past, to come out of all that has happened that changed everything is a theme around which the plot hovers.

5. The plot
The plot is, as such, very light on the reader. maybe it is because of the conversational style.
The Guardian sums up the plot, 'We learn that Changez is a highly educated Pakistani who worked as a financial analyst for a prestigious firm in New York. But after a disastrous love affair and the September 11 attacks, his western life collapses and he returns disillusioned and alienated to Pakistan.'

6. Changez, the protagonist
Now, this is not a perfect, infallible (and hence, non-existent ad unreal) protagonist, he has flaws in his character. Human flaws. And he admits them. Like, for instance his pleasure in the aftermath of 9/11.
His relationship with Erica is another equation that demands calculations from the readers, and makes up a large part of the second half of the novel. His intellect drew him to the mine of opportunities that is America. And it is ironic, how pleasant his life was until, you know, 9/11 happened, and he became disillusioned.

And last but not the least, a character to look out for and try to decipher is Jim.

Let me know what you feel in comments below.

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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