Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

cloudCloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell is a postmodernist novel that has been adapted into a film.

Postmodernist themes: different narrators and narrative techniques (journal writing, letters, mystery-novel, and interview; also newspaper clippings), simulacra and simulation, intertextuality (the stories are interconnected and mentioned), allusions (real and imaginary) to other literary works, consumerism (Sonmi narrative) and historicizing the characters.

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How to Save Your Own Life by Erica Jong

51KwcT3lvwL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_How to Save Your Own Life by Erica Jong is her second partly biographical book and a really interesting and revolutionary work on identity, gender roles, and meta-narration.

Identity of the author/narrator is distorted by the press, the strangers “who project their fantasies and frustrations on you” and those people “who envy you and imagine they would like to replace you” (8).

Narration strategies: letter writing (from a fan, Celia Laffont), play dialogue between Bennett and her when they are going to the airport to teach the Craft of Writing to Pastoral U, footnote on the F Questionnaire (75) that determines which men are safe to fuck and invented by Gretchen Kendall, list of How to Save Your Own Life / (The Wit & Wisdom of Isadora Wing) (190) and Josh’s letters to her.

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The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

NamesakeThe Namesake (2004) by Jhumpa Lahiri is, again, a personal favorite. After reading it again, I relaized that it is an ordinary story of two generations of the Ganguli fmaily but this time, as an immigrant, I could connect more to the situations of Ashima Ganguli.

Themes: identity (Gogol and Gogol), home and the diaspora, immigrant, relationships (Gogol and his partners, Ashima and Ashoke, and the community of immigrants), and food.

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The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh

shadowThe Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh is a personal favorite. I re-read this thinking that my love for it was misplaced but, surprise, it was not! One reason is Tridib, the central character, who functions as Ghosh’s mouthpiece.

Themes: home, memory, relationships (between generations), history, and borders (geography).

Place: “I could not persuade her that a place does not merely exist, that is has to be invented in one’s imagination… so that although she [Ila] had lived in many places, she had never traveled at all” (21).

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende is one of the few magic realism novels by a female author. It was Allende’s debut novel, published in 1982. It narrates the lives of four generations of the Trueba family. Clara is the most ‘magical’ character. There are also elements of Marxism both as a form of government as well as in the relations between Esteban Trueba and his tenants. There are also grand descriptions of the decorations in the “the big house on the corner;” the house reflects the relationships as well as upheavals in the family’s social and economic positions.  This novel reminded me of Julia Alvarez‘s In the Time of the Butterflies in Alba’s imprisonments and Maryse Conde‘s Windward Heights (which itself is a retelling of Wuthering Heights) in term sof the descriptions and a multi-generational narrative.

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Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee

51Hz3j06xrLJasmine by Bharati Mukherjee narrates the story of Jyoti of Hasnapur, Punjab. It describes her struggles as a wife, and later, a caregiver and a partner in the US. each of her identity is connected to a change in name and place. She is seventeen years old when her husband is murdered and when she travels to the US as an illegal immigrant (connection to Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies).

Jyoti is the name given to her by her family; Jasmine is the name given b her Indian husband, Prakash Vijh; Jase is the name given by Taylor, the father of the girl, Duff, who employs her as a caregiver; and Jane, the name given by her second husband in Iowa, Bud Ripplemayer, a banker in Iowa who is paralyzed, and the adopted father of Du, a Vietnamese who also goes through similar struggles and who later leaves them to be with his sister.

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