Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because of A Book with PJ Kaiser

This week I am happy to feature a blogger, PJ Kaiser.  We have become friends on Twitter and I am so excited about her post this week.  I hope you will take the time to get to know her here as well as on her blogs and Twitter.

P.J. is a stay-at-home mom, a former Information Technology professional (among other things) and an aspiring writer. She lives with her husband and two young children in Hoboken, New Jersey. P.J. blogs about education, parenting and other things at Double Latte Mama’s Blog, writes fiction at Inspired By Real Life and has a fertility website at High FSH Info. She will also be a contributor at the new New York family site  NY Metropolista. She can be found on Twitter @doublelattemama.

I’ve been around books all my life. As a child, my mom seemingly went through piles of books each week – primarily reading them while waiting for me to finish my tap class, swim team or other event. I remember reading the covers of the books and every time I looked she had a new book. I mostly read for entertainment until I was somewhere in my twenties. It was then that I discovered that books could have deeper meaning than a “whodunnit” or a romance.

Somewhere along the way, I became fascinated with authors from India. The very first book I read by an Indian author was “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy. This smallish book made me fall in love with the landscape of India, the people of India and – above all – the authors of India. Since that book, I have read a steady stream of books by Indian authors and the vast majority have been fantastic. The most incredible book in this genre that I have read to-date is “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. The prose in this book approaches poetry and Mistry maintains this level of beauty throughout this wide-ranging book. Just reading the book is enjoyable enough and when you contemplate the message, it is very powerful.

There are four protagonists in the story and each is drawn in such a way that although they are probably quite different from anyone that you know, they are incredibly real. These intimate characters find themselves in a variety of desperate situations while living in Indira Gandhi’s India. The characters come from different circumstances – some with advantages and some without. Some of the characters with absolutely no advantage survive horrific experiences and somehow are able to achieve happiness in spite of it all. There is an important message in this book about creating your own happiness and truly rising above your circumstances. I have drawn inspiration from this book on numerous occasions. Although many of the details of the book have faded from my memory, the characters with their message of hope live on.

About The God of Small Things:  The story of the tragic decline of an Indian family whose members suffer the terrible consequences of forbidden love, The God of Small Things is set in the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India. Armed only with the invincible innocence of children, the twins Rahel and Esthappen fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family — their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu (who loves by night the man her children love by day), their blind grandmother, Mammachi (who plays Handel on her violin), their beloved uncle Chacko (Rhodes scholar, pickle baron, radical Marxist, bottom-pincher), their enemy, Baby Kochamma (ex-nun and incumbent grandaunt), and the ghost of an imperial entomologist's moth (with unusually dense dorsal tufts).

When their English cousin and her mother arrive on a Christmas visit, the twins learn that Things Can Change in a Day. That lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever. The brilliantly plotted story uncoils with an agonizing sense of foreboding and inevitability. Yet nothing prepares you for what lies at the heart of it.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound

I am currently looking for bloggers, authors and publishers to feature here on Because of A Book.  If you'd like to be a guest, please email me.  First person gets next week's spot!


Rebecca :) said...

Wonderful post! I am going to India at the end of September and I have become fascinated with India as well. I haven't red Roy's book yet, but I am reading A Passage to India now. I realize it is over 80 years old but it gives me a good feeling for some of the history of the Indian people. I have not visited P.J.'s blog so I am excited to find another new blog to visit!

lilly said...

What an accomplished girl! I love it, it's really awesome. And the post is great, especially that (I will be partial here) I love Indian fiction as well and God of Small Things is on my all time favorites list.

Michelle Zink said...

This sounds like a great story! I LOVE books set in India, too. Have you ever read The Twentieth Wife? SO GOOD!

Thanks for the recommendation!

site designed by aerin at insearchofgiants.com