Book Reviews by a Pioneer: A Red-necked Green Bird by Ambai translated from Tamil by GJV Prasad

Genre: Short Stories

Rating: 4.5/5

The author says in the beginning that windows have continued to play a major role in her life – they are openings to see the outer world from within – each window presents a different view. The other constant in each story is music, which evokes diverse emotions in different situations. Windows and music are a metaphor for human relationships dictated by situations.

An ageing woman is reminded of her father who died of throat cancer in the way a crow keeps coming to her kitchen window to be fed delicacies and listen to music that her father liked. Another ageing woman has lost her husband and contemplates suicide due to the indifferent attitude of her son living in USA – she is past her expiry date. A man leaves his family one day, renouncing the material world, without caring for the upheaval in the lives of his wife and born-deaf daughter. A man must turn into a woman for one night to understand the daily trauma that women go through in the 21st century. A woman loses her near and dear ones to the killings in 1984 in the name of religion. A woman is pelted with stones by people because of her conversion to another religion to earn money for her family. A woman scientist makes love to a cyborg from 11th dimension.

There are 13 stories, each talking about what women have endured since time immemorial in a patriarchal society. But these are not weak women – woman, in fact, is the stronger of the two. The stories talk to you in simple language, about a complex subject – relationship.

The stories have been translated from Tamil by GJV Prasad. Tamil words have been retained in passages, followed by English translation. But they do not detract from the story – they enhance the flavour.

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