Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Snippets of Life Music by Ramesh Chandra Tiwari

We gather snippets of wisdom as we grow older. We also want the younger generation to gain from our experiences and not commit blunders or follies that we fell to. That brings in a tendency to be repetitive and often preachy. But each generation has its own challenges, and would love to learn from its mistakes. That is what life is about.

The title of the anthology is apt. Each of the short stories in the book is about different facets of relationships, and life itself, but most of them relate to incidents in the lives of the lower middle-class. Quite a few of these snippets may not be even relevant to the fast paced technology driven upper middle class upward generation.

I have mentioned in one of my earlier reviews also, an author has to walk a tightrope while delivering message – it has to be subtle. The book suffers from an in your face sermonising. It also needs improvement in grammar.

The book is an attempt at character building in the younger generation.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The (In)significant Soul by Abhishek Chaturvedi

Kabir is born in a lower middle-class family in small-time India. He, like so many others in the same social strata, are expected to lead an insignificant life. But he refuses to bow down to destiny.

His chance meeting with a distant relative from the army makes him see the dreams of joining the Indian army through NDA. Failure to do so in the first attempt makes him even more determined to clear the entrance examination.

As he moves along in life, Kabir meets several people, and gathers many bitter-sweet experiences. He realises that he is not insignificant since he refuses to accept a common life as his destiny. This is the message that he sends out to all – do not accept an insignificant life.

The author is a serving army man. There are many anecdotes from the army life beginning from the NDA selection process, till actual life in the army, well woven in this fictional narrative. This would certainly appeal to the younger generation on the threshold of embarking on their professional journey.

There is only one aspect in the book that did not work for me. Each chapter starts with a motivational quote and ends with a few lines, and sometimes with a single or multiple paragraphs, of moral preaching, about how one should handle situations in life. This was too much in the face as I progressed from chapter to chapter. The book lost its charm of a good fictional read.

The book should appeal to the younger generation.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Contact sanjaychandra59@gmail.com for book reviews.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Muffled Screams of Buriganga by Sthitaprajna Debadutta Kar

Adyasha is an investigative journalist based in Delhi. She has successfully worked on many high profile cases in the past, and is currently investigating an incident in Jagannathpur in Bangladesh.

Arfin, a Bangladeshi journalist has been her mentor, and is now more of a brother. He promises to send her documents and pictures pertaining to the incident by the next morning, but fails to keep his words.

Adyasha later learns through a newspaper report that he was brutally killed with his wife. She travels to Dhaka for the funeral, and then decides to visit Jagannathpur for her story. It seems that Arfin’s death is linked to the evidence that he wanted to send her.

It is an edge of the seat book. The storytelling is compelling. You are left guessing about what will come next. It does not falter as Adyasha tries to unravel the mystery behind the gruesome incident. The end, when it comes, is unexpected.

The book would appeal to readers who love a good crime thriller.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Contact sanjaychandra59@gmail.com for book reviews

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Chandausi Junction by Shankar and Preeti Sahay

All of us have grown up listening to tales narrated by our parents or grandparents. If we were not children, we might have discerned a certain fondness, a certain longing, in their tone while telling these stories. But mostly these made us smile or chuckle or laugh heartily with our elders. These were not just stories for them – they were either anecdotes from their own childhood or stories handed down to them by their elders.

Chandausi Junction is a collection of 25 such fables from the lives of the author couple. These span a timeline from before independence till the mid-eighties. All the stories are narratives from the rural, semi-urban and urban India, across different social strata. The beauty of the stories is that they are timeless. Each reader would have gone through similar incidents from at least one story. I certainly felt a sense of déjà vu while reading some of the tales.

My review would not be complete without a special mention of the excellent cover. I believe, and I hope that I am right, the sepia tone of the picture is original and not photo shopped. This certainly would be an old photograph from the albums of those years.

This anthology would appeal to readers across different age groups.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Vow of Parvati by Aditi Banerjee

Many of us have either read or seen on the television the story of Sati and Shiv, their marriage, Sati’s immolation in the ritual fire when her husband was insulted by her father, her re-birth eons later as Parvati, and the coming together of the two.

It is a timeless tale, retold many times by many people. Aditi brings alive the vivid tale of love in her inimitable style. The author has also researched extensively to narrate many events that I was not aware of.

The challenge in narrating stories from the past is that there are no records of what transpired between different characters. We are also biased by the many retellings by our ancestors. The author has given her own unique perspective to the story. The dialogues that the author has attributed to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, or the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati and Sati, makes the tale relatable to us. They too indulge in banter like we humans do. The intense scenes are also well etched out depicting the sentiments that the characters are going through. That makes the story interesting to read.

This ageless story would appeal to readers across different age groups.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Cord by Sredhanea Ramkrishnan

Human relationships are complex. They would always have dilemmas. It is these dilemmas that the author explores in her debut fiction work.

The story is set in the backdrop of the 1947 Indo-Pak partition till the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971. Is the partition only a line drawn on the map? What happens if the son does not want to migrate with his family for his love? What would happen if two people who were friends just the other day look at each other through the sights of their rifles on the battlefield? What would happen to the conflicts in a mother for the love of her son and her responsibilities towards her family? How would a son react when he has to take his father a prisoner of war? Are the relationships also casualties of that line drawn on the map?

You feel the pain of all the protagonists – every one is a protagonist in his life. In the end you realise that there are no winners in this battle. This is a war that each one has to fight in own way.

A beautifully written story that would make you smile, that would also make you cry. Short chapters make reading a treat. I would look forward to more stories from this young author.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Tribin and the Battle Axe by Abhijit Chaki

I was not sure what to expect when I first picked up the book. The cover was attractive, the blurb was interesting.

Tribin, a writer, working against a deadline to submit his manuscript, lands up in an isolated property somewhere in the Kerala mountains.

Out on a morning walk, he hears a scream from the estate next door. The lady is Sayali, a renowned badminton player. She was amongst the top 10 in international ranking till sometime back. But then she slumped. She is trying to rediscover her top self.

Tempers are frayed – at least those of the lady. Tribin… Well he does not know what has hit him. He just wants to help the young woman… With just a rudimentary knowledge of the game. Unthinkable… Will this lead to something beyond a professional relationship?

This is the beauty of this novel. It makes you believe in the improbable. The storytelling never flags. The language is fluid. Once I started, I did not want to put the book down.

A fast-paced easy read.

Sanjay Chandra is the author of The Gymnast (Book 1 of Street Performers Series)

Musings of a Pioneer: The Journey of a Trapeze Artist

I saw that family on a road divider close to where I live. The children wore tattered clothes and looked hungry. There was a makeshift tent erected on the road divider itself and that apparently was their home. But the children, like all other children, were oblivious to their surroundings and were innocently playing on the road.

Their games, of course, were nothing like the games that children from relatively well-off families played. One child was doing cartwheels across the road during stoppages in traffic at a red signal. One child was playing a homemade musical instrument. Yet another child was singing and dancing. They were doing that to earn little money, which some good Samaritan might throw their way.

It was a scene that I was used to on roads across all cities not only in our country but also in developed countries of Europe and England as well as many other nations. I realised that I had become immune to their presence around me. Earlier, I saw them but did not notice them.

This started me on a long journey – a journey of almost 75 years starting from sometime in 1955, and ending in 2029. The beginning of the journey was modest… No, modest is an overstatement. The beginning was even less than humble. But there was a burning desire to be better than what they had been. This passionate fire continued, till Roshni, a girl born in this family started her journey in 2011.

The Gymnast is the journey of Roshni, foundations of which were laid 75 years back. I count my blessings that this family chose to include me in their travels across decades and across two centuries.

I also feel blessed that I am able to bring their story to my readers through The Gymnast, Book 1 of Street Performers Series.

I am also giving away signed copies of the book on the occasion of 75 years of Indian independence. Participate in the Independence Day Quiz and win signed copies.

Please also share your reviews about the book.