Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Handmaid's Tale

Have you ever wondered what happens if a zealous group overthrows the US government and enforces women subjugation and reverses all the progress made by women so far? Maybe it's not too far fetching, given the fact that the Taliban has tried to do something similar in Afghanistan. 

Margaret Atwood's Handmaid Tale is a dystopian novel that offers a strongly feminist perspective. In this novel, a group of religious extremists take over power and creates a society with foundation on - return to traditional values and gender roles. Women are forbidden to vote, read/write. Class system is also enforced. Handmaids are women who are nothing but breeding machines, who are assigned to commanders whose wives cannot produce offspring. 

Handmaid's Tale is a masterfully written novel that provides a horrifying peek at the possibility of such a future.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


If you are looking for a chilling and thrilling crime fiction, this is for you. Out by Natuso Kirino is the winner of Japan's top mystery award and makes an outstanding read. This is about a group of friends, who find themselves in the midst of a brutal crime. Beyond the gruesome crime, the author's depiction of the main characters, especially Masako and Satake, provides an intriguing and enriching reading experience. Being a thriller, I don't want to divulge anything else and spoil the fun for you! ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air

A Breath of Fresh Air by Amulya Malladi is the story of Anjali and her journey from naive, silly young woman to a mature and courageous person. It is also a story of selfish and chauvinist Prakash, caring and understanding Sandeep, and sweet Amar. The novel starts with the Bhopal gas tragedy and proceeds through indicating how it affected Anjali - both emotionally and physically.

The style and story reminded me of Yaddanapudi - typical emotional roller coaster of life full of drama.

Good and breezy read for a lazy afternoon.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Silkworm, pseudonymously written by J K Rowling as Robert Galbraith, is a riveting murder mystery. This is her second book featuring Cormoran Strike as a burly ex-army, highly methodological, single-legged private detective, and his eager and attractive assistant Robin. The first book, called The Cuckoo's Calling, is good too. But I liked this better.

The murder in Silkworm is elaborate and grotesque. The very nature of it piques one's interest despite making one shudder at the thought of it. The story revolves around writers, and their eccentrics. Rowling weaves an intriguing plot with doses of elements including gore, hermaphrodites, literary symbolism, passion, and revenge.

A definite unputdownable reading for mystery lovers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Athadu Adavini Jayinchadu

This Sahitya Academy Award winner by Dr. Kesava Reddy is an absolute gem. It's a very short book - a novella. It's about an old man and his attempt to bring back his beloved pig from the cruel forest where it gets stranded for the night. The whole story starts at sunset and ends by the next sunrise. When I first heard about the story line, I found it very unattractive and was almost sure that it would not be an easy read given the fact that it's an award winner. But I couldn't be too wrong about it.The narration is gripping and there's never a dull moment as we go along with the old man through the night. It's a very captivating story. It's full of spirit, courage, loyalty, love, and duty. This one is not to be missed. Personally for me, reading it had been such a pleasure - beyond words can describe.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Apple has beautifully captured the essence of this novel and reviewed it very well on her blog. I'm sure it's futile for me even to attempt to surpass or at least reach its detail and style. So, I urge the readers to check it out here. I've picked up this book after reading this review and I second it completely. Tanhayi is a modern-day novel that almost anyone can relate to. It's about the inner struggle of a man and a woman who find themselves in love out of their marriages. It gives much food for thought. The point was not to judge or preach. Life never seems as smooth as we would like it to be. It throws surprises at us, when we are least prepared. For Kalhaara and Koushik, it was true love under wrong circumstances.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nijaniki Feminijaniki Madhya - Nidadhavolu Malathi Kathalu

This collection of 45 stories by Nidadhavolu Malathi was a random pick from the library. I never heard about either the book or the author before and hence started reading it with certain skepticism. Soon, I got absorbed into the varied themes the stories touched upon and realized that I like the collection. The author dealt with subtle emotions and portrayed the prevalent societal norms and values in the most non-dramatic manner. Some of them depicted NRI lives in USA. This is the first time I encountered that theme in Telugu literature and I found it refreshing.

Also, one important thing that struck me as I read through the stories was that the protagonists were not idealistic; they were normal with their own shortcomings and insecurities. They didn't do great things and didn't often solve their own problems. I felt that the author didn't try to convey any message or tried to solve the characters' issues, which makes these stories an artistic record of the author's astute and fine observations of human behavior. Essentially this characteristic leaves a lot for the readers to think about and reflect on.

Barring a few stories, which didn't appeal to me, the collection makes a decent read. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Amaravathi Kathalu

I presume Satyam Sankaramanchi's Amaravathi Kathalu needs neither an introduction  nor any specific recommendation. I have had the opportunity to read this classic collection of stories only now and really feel fortunate for being able to do so. These are perhaps the sweetest and the most beautiful stories I've ever read. It's a collection of 100 stories, all based in the sacred town - Amaravathi. Lord Siva and river Krishna comprise the major elements, or rather the under current of all the stories. It's a medley of various emotions and facets of life.

I borrow a few words from the end note by MVL that aptly reflects my thoughts about this work:

Chadivina vaari kallallo krishna ponginchi
gundelo tiyyati manta ragilinche
gaadhasathi amaravathi kathalu

Even though each and every story is exquisite and I enjoyed reading all of them, one has cast a deep impression on my mind. Rendu gangalu: it's a simple story of or rather narration of rejoicing the rain. The simplicity and the beauty of it is just splendid!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Secret Wish List

This latest book from Preeti Shenoy is a typical chick-lit one can breeze through. Preeti's  no-nonsense style makes it a very good read. I was very much impressed by the first half of the book, where she depicts the mundane married life, with an insensitive husband, of Diksha interspersed with her that past, which led her to an early marriage. Preeti brings out many simple and otherwise facts of a woman's life. Where it comes to Diksha's liberation in the later half of the story, everything happens like magic - aka fantasy. Super rich lover, who deeply loves her even after 18 years of their brief affair, who in fact didn't ever really stopped loving her, and a super handsome salsa instructor cum friend mark the typical dream-like nature of chick-lit. Of course not to say far-fetching and unrealistic. But that's the kind of stuff light fiction readers like. Once Diksha makes her secret wish list, it seems the fate itself conspires to make it all easy for her to make her wishes come to reality. One interesting aspect is that Diksha has critical and unsupportive parents but understanding and helpful mother-in-law. All in all, it's a good read.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Saalabhanjika by Kuppili Padma is a collection of 11 stories which had appeared in various magazines over the period of 1997 to 2001. All the stories portray women - strong and independent, even as they jostle against the circumstances. Loved the writing style. "Athani Kalalu", the first story in the collection, seemed abstract and poetic. It describes the desperation of a woman to seek divorce from her husband. The title story "Saalabhanjika" is about the life of 'escorts'. Other stories too are set in varied backdrops, dealing with the usual aspects such as love, family, marriage, betrayal, and sex.

Each story is different in its own and still has a connecting thread to the rest of the collection. "Saalabhanjika" is a gratifying read.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

From Anuradha, With Love

This is a collection of 23 short stories by Ampasayya Naveen. More than a few stories deal with naxalism - how it lures young minds to their doom and how it adversely impacts the common man.A few stories are about the subtle and not so subtle abuse women face and the need to question it and get out of the situation. There are also stories about general married life, which strike a chord or two for many. Bonded labor too gets mentioned in many stories and makes the readers to acknowledge the atrociousness of it. Some stories also talk about the fragile and impermanent relationships between people. All in all, it's an engaging mixed bag.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Table for Four

Table for Four by K. Srilata was an impulse pick but I was not disappointed. It delivered what the book cover promised. It's a racy book about 4 people sharing a house, and their respective stories. Each one of us, like the "four" in the novel, has a story to tell - our past - with our own share of secrets. Our present is shaped by our past and the struggle with oneself - one's own past - is the greatest struggle one can go through. Letting go, is perhaps, the most important lesson of life.

The fashion-savvy Sandra has a traumatic childhood behind her, the silent journalist Derek is infatuated by an Afgan boy, the composed Maya is scared of the sea and the otherwise charming Uncle Prithvi seeks recluse. Each has a story to tell, which surely captivates the reader's interest.

This book had been long listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2009.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Ampasayya by Naveen had been in my "to-read" list for a long time. Naveen was recommended to me by a literary friend a while back and I've been keen to read him ever since. Ampasayya was his first novel and was so popular that Naveen became Ampasayya Naveen after that.

It's the depiction of a student's life, caught up in restlessness. It portrays the inner turmoil of a student fighting various emotions and ideals. It was dated back to later '60s and it's interesting to see that many of the issues are still relevant to today's students.

The narration is of a different style and flowing, just like the thoughts seamlessly whirling around in one's mind. It had been quite a good reading experience. The book has the same comfort pace throughout and there never was a dull moment. I look forward to read more of the author,most of whose works are supposed to be based on youngsters.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mullapoodi Venkataramana Katha Ramaneeyam - 2

This is a real treat. It is a collection of short stories categorized into sections like

  • Rasa Ramaneeyam
  • Sarasa Ramaneeyam
  • Runa Ramaneeyam
  • Jana Ramaneeyam
  • Lokaabhi Ramaneeyam
  • Saradaa Ramaneeyam
  • Koutilya Ramaneeyam
  • Baala Ramaneeyam.
The wit and wisdom of the author are evident in each and every story. The puns and sarcastic observations are both amusing and enlightening. One can easily perceive the romantic nature of the author by the artful and subtle way he deals with the subjects. The story "Kaanuka" is about Gopanna who strives to make the perfect flute to gift to Lord Krishna through 25 years unable to be satisfied with any of his innumerable outputs. This is  such a beautiful story that I fell in love with it right away. Sarasa Ramaneeyam, where he speaks about love-stricken men and their mostly assumed predicaments and troubles is worth to be marveled about. The wisdom and quips  ingrained in Runa Ramaneeyam demands outright commendation. Not that anything is ground-breaking, what I meant to convey is that you can't help admiring the way the author has laid out things. Did you know that Mullapoodi is the one who created the famous character "Apparao", who lives only on loans, and a special lingo associated with the art of taking loans? It's amazing to read about the apparent talent of such people, albeit in fiction. :-) All the other stories too deserve to be mentioned for their awesomeness.

I read the Volume 1 of Katha Ramaneeyam almost 4 years back. Though I don't remember much of what I read from it, I remember relishing the collection. I guess I enjoyed Volume 2 more but it may be only because I evolved more as a reader since back then and not because that Volume 1 was any less appealing.

Vishalandhra Publishing House
Price: Rs. 150

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Written at least a few decades earlier, this set of short stories by Pulicherla Subbarao reflect the sentiments and values of those times. I couldn't help observing that at least a few stories are old-fashioned in terms of the subject matter. Not that the inherent sentiments and emotions don't hold true now, but the sheer fact that we've read in literature, watched on screen, and even observed in our lives a lot about an ungrateful son ignoring his parents in their old age, a wealthy brother ill-treating his less fortune sibling, relatives abusing the orphaned kid etc. made these stories seem common. Moreover, the tragedy involved in almost all the stories wrung my heart so much that I couldn't bear it.

I couldn't help reacting to some of the sentiments described in a couple of stories though. An excerpt:

"Inke mundannayya! Mana vamseekulu ika talettuku tiragaleru. Daani pelli kaavatam alaa unchu. Ika Suguna batiki maatram em laabham? Appude chachi poyinaa baagundedi."

These are the feelings of the cousin of the rape victim. I don't want to get started on this but the stupidity, unfairness of it all makes my blood boil. In the end, the family and the society succeeds in killing the girl - she commits suicide.

I agree that society thinks like this, but the author made no attempt to let the readers realize that this is atrocious and unfair.

Another example is about the dowry issue. The story is about the inner struggle of and burden felt by a father, who is unable to marry his daughter off due to lack of enough money. The dominant sentiment in this story is - a girl not married at proper age is doomed. But the author did better for this story by making the girl stand up for herself and her family.

The writing and narration are good and the 15 stories cover varied aspects of society. This collection makes a good read for Telugu short story lovers.  Despite all, there is no doubt it's a good literary treat.