Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Clubs and so on

I really enjoyed attending the book club meeting in Bombay back in July. Even though I didn't love the book assigned for the month, it was really fun to discuss it and to find out how other people reacted to it, get new perspectives on it and so on...So after I got back, I floated the idea of forming a book club to various friends and most of them agreed to be a part of it. We didn't get much of a consensus on what book to pick for the first month so I finally decided on the Sea of Poppies.

I don't really know what prompted me to pick the book. I had to go out and buy it after setting it as the book, and I'm usually pretty wary of Indian authors - I find many of them rather depressing, especially as one can identify with the misery portrayed - one sees it on a daily basis. And my one experience of trying to read Amitav Ghosh (The Shadow Lines, way back in college) hadn't been great...

But I was so glad I had picked this book. I found it an adddictive read and had to consciously pace myself so I wouldn't finish it off too quickly (that was my only book during some travel), and almost found myself 'coming to', when the book ended. I couldn't believe that I'd now have to wait several months, if not years, to get the next instalment of the story of the unforgettable characters.

Luckily, everyone who attended the book club meeting yesterday felt the same way. Most of them loved the book and found it incredibly visual as well. The characters were very involving. It was also interesting to examine the many layers of 'class wars' that were taking place, vertly or covertly - the indian caste one, the British versus Indian one, the full versus half breed one...And some of the moments in the book were harrowing to think about for those of us who were parents. Everyone gave the book a thumbs up 'must-read' rating.

Ali felt that not a single word in the book was wasted, though the book was long. Rohit had marked out several passages where he found the descriptions transporting him to that era. We also had a lively discussion about the history of the British raj - when the Crown took over from the East India Company and the changes that brought in the British-Indian relationship, how going overseas was taboo in those days and so on.

Most of all, I enjoyed the experience of sharing a common liking of the book and the purely intellectual debate that we had...took me back to the good old days of college/ school wherein we would really dissect a piece of literature. Looking forward to more such as time goes on...

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