Monday, March 5, 2012

Book review: Urban Shots

I discovered the wonderful book review program run by the people over at Blog Adda some time back and when I'd finally gotten over the fact that there were people out there willing to send you books you might be interested in to review, I promptly signed up and began applying for books with a zeal worthy of the gold diggers of ancient Australia. Much hopeful application and wistful trawling through e-mail later, I finally got a congratulatory e-mail a few days ago and soon after a copy of 'Urban Shots' was delivered to our doorstep. In terms of timing, this couldn't have happened at a more opportune moment for two reasons: 1)This blog is in urgent need of resuscitation and the requirement to do a book review will hopefully act as a much needed kick on the posterior in that direction, 2) Intensive practice for the child's annual concert (thought playschool was a hoot did you? *insert sound of hysterical laughter here*) was happening around the time I got the book and it made for a light, breezy read between rounds of concert drop offs and pick ups and watching Nikki do her banana-in-pajamas act on stage (more on that later).



And so, it was with a sense of general contentment and bonhomie(well at least as much as you can squeeze in while a bunch of preschoolers run amok in the vicinity) that I settled in with my copy of Urban Shots. The Urban Shots that I read was the first publication in the series (they have since come up with a few more titles) and is an anthology of short stories contributed by writers with varied backgrounds from all over the country. The book makes for an interesting bouquet of tales reflecting relationships, love and longing in their myriad forms against a backdrop of urban India. The collection starts off with 'Hope comes in small packages', a touching account of a young woman's struggle to come to terms with devastating bereavement and how she finds hope in the unlikeliest of places. Getting off to a promising start, the stories then span the lives and relationships of a multitude of characters, from the intuitively perceptive Chamundi in Malathi Jaikumar's 'Liberation' who learns to free herself from the man she is bonded to for life in her own unique way, to the liberated Kajal in Ahmed Faiyaz's 'It's a small world' who finds herself facing the prospect of a gilded prison of an altogether different kind. I quite enjoyed the frothy, perky 'Apple Pies and a Grey Sweater' by Prateek Gupta and Kunal Dhabalia's 'Love-All'. The sepia tinged 'Dialects of Silence' by Vrinda Baliga left a lasting impact with its strikingly simple and yet stirring narrative and is a story that I know is going to stay with me.

Many of the stories are easily relatable, these are situations we have been in, people we know, sometimes even people we could have been ourselves. The book has been edited by Paritosh Uttam, author of 'Dreams in Prussian Blue', launched under the Penguin 'Metro Reads' series and he has contributed several stories to the anthology as well, stories which take familiar, well worn situations and subtly introduce an element of disruption that jolts you out of your comfort zone to reach a startling revelation. Young, restless, often unreasonable love is brought out beautifully in 'A mood for love' when the protagonist Ruchi hankers for an elusive soul mate as she thinks 'I could love you. I could love anybody now...'

Many of the stories are layered and offer themselves up for a slower re-exploration. Some however do disappoint, they are either too flat or too uni-dimensional to really strike a chord but these are few and far between. Overall, Urban Shots makes for an interesting read, and offers a unique perspective into the young and the restless, the bold and the beautiful as conjured up by some of young, urban India's finest minds.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!
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