I have had the rare pleasure of reading an upcoming collection of short stories from Sharat Kumar. But, before I delve into the details I feel the need to state some truths. Firstly, I have never done a book review before. Secondly, I had not read or heard of the writer prior to this and all credit goes to my small reading list and large ignorance. Thirdly, after reading the first two very impressive chapters of this book, I immediately scrolled to the about section and I so was overwhelmed by his accomplishments and quite illustrations career and life that I thought, “how am I going to review this book?” or rather, “who am I to review?” But, then I thought that even if this was from a first-time writer, it wouldn’t make any difference since I barely have any background of literature or language studies to judge or critic a book. And I always advocate the writing to be an outlet for expression rather than an exercise in grammar. So, I am going to tell you just that and keep it short. Phew!
The book is titled “The White Marble Burzi”, which is the very first story. I won’t say it’s the strongest story, just because it wouldn’t be fair to the other stories. But I will say this that it is the most important one since the writer felt the need to identify his book with the title of this story. And with the recurring mentions of temples and churches, gods and religion throughout the book, it’s not surprising that this was the first story because it’s like lore or a fabled story of a Goddess. It is a story of an imperfect and troubled woman, with whom the narrator has fallen in love. He is in love so deeply, that he almost worships her flaws while fondly reminiscing about her. And if you have ever been secretly in love (read, one-sided), you will really connect with the story.
And almost all of the stories have characters reminiscing about the past, which plays perfectly to the current events described. This, in turn, develops the characters, gives insights into their behavior and most importantly, lures you into the detailed descriptive narration of events that occur over a small period of time. And it feels like living those moments with the characters. But, this is not just about that. In his stories, and as described in the preface, Sharat explores relationships in it’s all three aspects, physical, intellectual and emotional. And in doing so, he does not offer a judgemental or prejudiced view. Though I sometimes felt that some opinions were sort of biased, but that was solely because his characters stay true to their nature and not because of any bias from the writer. So, in short, his characters are much like real life and the events and motivations are much like real life too.
All of the thirteen stories stand on their own merits. Each one is an exploration of human relationships, one aspect and one period at a time. I will be honest, I did not connect to every story and you might not connect to every story either. In fact, no one can, because the writer writes with experience and explores the emotions in daily events. You do not necessarily have to have had a similar experience to connect but, that does affect the odds. There were two other stories that I really loved apart from the title story, “Florence” and “The Storm”. And I would not describe every story because that will spoil the whole experience.
So, should you read it? Absolutely, because the experience and insight shared alone are invaluable. But if you prefer fairy tales and phony love stories, this will disappoint you.
Claim your copy from Sharat’s Website: www.sharatkumar.in
I will be back!