Thursday, 23 August 2018

Book Review: Bijnis woman by Tanuja Chandra.



Book: Bijnis Woman 

Author: Tanuja Chandra 

Publisher: Penguin 

Pages: 141 

Read On: Paperback 

How Long it took me To Read: 2 days 

Plot Summary: A masaledaar mix of fact and fiction, action and emotion, drama and passion—these strange, funny, intriguing tales from small-town Uttar Pradesh have been passed orally from one generation to the next. They are likely to make one exclaim, ‘This couldn’t have happened!’ even as the narrators swear they are nothing but pure fact. 
The bizarre chronicle of a lazy daughter-in-law, the court clerk who loved eating chaat, two cousins inseparable even in death, a blind teacher who fell in love with a woman with beautiful eyes and other wild tales from Bareilly, Lucknow, Hapur, Badaun, Sapnawat and Pilibhit, places big and small, in that fascinating part of India called Uttar Pradesh.

General Thoughts: Short stories always have me interested. And add UP and it's many shades to it and I am sold!  

Review: UP is often in the News for all sorts of horrible things. In general, especially amongst those not living in UP, the place is a mystery and often thought about in not so flattering ways. I don't blame them, it's sometimes easy to judge a place based on headlines and by the actions of some of it's people. It's easy but not right. UP is so much more than it's sordid politics, it's crime rates and seemingly wildness. 

I consider myself 1/4th UP-ite. My Dadu, my mother's father and his entire family is from Benares. Bengali but born and raised in Benares. So I've always felt this unknown love for UP. I also spent five years living in Lucknow and got to experience the many wonderful things and food and sights of living in UP. So a short story collection set in UP was very high on interest radar. 

This collection is a delightful bunch of stories set in the heartland of UP. Stories about regular and not so regular folks.

If like me, you have a connection with UP or you are from UP this is a book that will bring back memories and push you into whirl of nostalgia. If you no connection to the place and it's people, it's still a collection of memorable and enjoyable stories.

In any collection of short stories there are often a few stories that aren't as good as the rest, thats normal and happens all the time. So to find a collection where every single story was in the same range of good. In this book I honestly didn't not like any story. I liked all of these stories. This is a rare, rare book!

The range in these stories is pretty incredible. Some about regular people living their lives, friendships,  some are love stories and others have a touch of magical realism. There is a little something for everyone.

I love how atmospheric this book is, the places, the homes and the minds of these people all come alive and it feels like you've been sucked into this time and place.

This was such an enjoyable read and made me really homesick for UP and reminded me so much of stories one heard in UP.

Rating: 4/5 

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