The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: A Book Review

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Along with her The Blind Assassin, this is one of the most convoluted and elaborate novels I have ever read. The story is too cloudy to understand that it requires your powers of concentration, especially if you are not analytical enough to grasp its complexity, the style I have proven Atwood bears the hallmark of.

Instead of analyzing it in a broader literary context with intellectual bravado since everyone can turn to Wikipedia, I’d rather review it in a manner of  what I found out in her writing styles: I’m envious of her skilled mastery for turning into beautiful prose her train of thoughts or whatsoever plays  in the figment of her imagination. Furthermore, she is an unfathomable female writer who can be as genius as any writers mostly celebrated in world literature.

This novel from the first pages to the last is strewn with vivid, beautiful, elegant, graceful, sumptuous sentences which I enjoyed reading rather than   gripping its main idea. The sentences are so lyrical that I chanted them again and again. They melt in my tongue like sweet, dark chocolate, or smell good like a garden,  full of a variety of colorful flowers hovered  above by a swarm of butterflies.

Under an unlikely scenario, if there were still such a world that men were superior to women over skills in writing stories or any literacy pieces, and Atwood were into such a literary show-off ,surrounded by supercilious writers looking down on her feminism, I bet my life that Atwood could dominate or catch up with them at any cost of literary bouts. Don’t dare her write one because this her The Handmaid’s Tale has proved me   wrong that there is something Atwood could make her rather genius. Her novels may appear complex, much more if she writes a simpler or more intricate one. In other words, there is nothing to find fault with her more; it’s crystal clear that she is an extraordinary writer. Roll down the red carpet and pay homage to Her Majesty.

Now, I freely  acknowledge that reading another Atwood’s books could be challenging since I have now the clearest idea of her writing style. Sometime in the future, if I have a great deal of time, perhaps when I reach my mid-life , no longer preoccupied with how to embellish my life with youthful experiences, hers would be one of those books I want to read again and again.As American musician and filmmaker, Frank Zappa put it , so many books, so little time to read.There are still thousands of  books in the world I haven’t read yet.

Also, the best course of technique I should use when I happen to read Atwood’s other books  and others books which have little resemblance to her style  would be a matter of full concentration ( regardless of  how poor my reading comprehension skill is .) Then, I will seat myself at a coffee table with a voluminous dictionary and colorful highlighters scattered around , par for the course in my reading repose. Ho-ho!

P.S . It is now being adapted for a TV series  broadcast live on  Hulu.

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )

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Her Resurrection: A Survivor’s Journey of Emancipation, Reclamation and Redemption by Soumyadeep Koley: A Book Review

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Toni Morrison, considered as one of the best American writers, popped in my mind while reading it. Most of her works deal with slavery , discrimination against  Blacks, both men and women. Most of them also have scenes about rape, inhumane treatment, degradation- something that breaks my heart  and gets my dander up  at the point I run into those parts.Like Toni Morrison’s writing style, Soumyadeep Koley‘s in his debut is “stripped naked”, audacious, full of beautiful and inspiring snippets and thus engaging and compelling.  In other words, it can be a candidate for an eye-opening book that can make a difference , not only to India  but also to all nations.

Meet Maya, the protagonist, young, ambitious, a daughter of a farmer, but debased by her father as a burden to society. Because of the near rape incident, her father will  marry her off to a man older than her. But  she will resist;instead, she will come to an agreement with the man’s father by letting her be educated first. All she wants is to learn how to speak English and read a thick English book. Not satisfied, she wants to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but her husband-to- be, along with his father, will disagree and insult her.Because of Maya’s full resistance and determination, the man will gang-rape her resulting in her family’s  total humiliation and catastrophe. Her father  will die after his attempt to kill her , and her mother will be sent to jail. To get out of the prejudice, she will venture out in Mumbai where her life will be more miserable; she will be raped for the second time and forced into prostitution. Also, there, she will have the chance to prove her ability to keep up with men in terms of job. However, since men are superior and women are nothing , she will not get ahead in her dreams. Instead, she will fall short…Her story goes on with more and more miseries, and I can’t stand telling them any longer. You read it.

The highlights of the novel are its horrendous  rape scenes, prostitution, the protagonist’s brave face off with police and her failures to  get her dreams, and beautiful snippets. So, hold yourself and take a deep breathe. You might not stand it as you keep on turning the next pages.

The title of the novel  perfectly goes with the real concept of the story: Her Resurrection: A Survivor’s Journey of Emancipation, Reclamation and Redemption , since it  apparently paints a portrait of feminism . Women are still  culturally considered lower, decorations, slaves in India’s social class. Women or girls  who are  fully aware of their social position muster up enough courage to break this wall of rotten culture. They make point of surviving the world they don’t belong to by standing up to it despite the travails they can go through. In the end, like  Blacks during slavery period in America, they  will shed blood , endure,suffer until they  achieve the desired freedom without discrimination, degradation, prejudice, ostracism, and so on.

The story makes much of rape and prostitution which the author must want to point out  that  men deluded into virility or sense of masculinity use such destructive weapon to inflict upon defenseless women- something realistic and must be addressed  even up to this day  , not just  by  conservative  but also  modernly free nations.

To make the heart-wrenching  story somehow soothing, the novel  is also embellished with  literary elements  such as photography , psychiatry, and psychology which reflect the author’s educational and work  background, and I don’t think they undermine the foundation of the story. In addition , Koely’s prose and quotes are  absorbing. If it were not his beautiful sentences, the story would be wincing.

Here are my favorite quotes :

“Since my childhood, I’ve always dreamed to be a soldier. As I grew up and stepped into the twenty-first century, I came to realize that India needs more soldiers not to go to war, but to support the pivotal battle of the nation- to fight for women who have been debased and devolved by patriarchy and misogyny, since time immemorial, in order to reclaim the rights that have always been rightfully theirs.”

“Reality is very hard. Life is harder. It should be worked upon, not dreamt. Dreams should have a place in your mind only in the night, not after you wake up.”

“Time can change everything- from kings to paupers, from settlers to drifters, from lovers to strangers, and from girls to ragdolls.”

“Life is the sum of the choices you make. There’s nothing called destiny, neither anything is written It is the difference between a small ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Don’t let your past define your future.”

“Some things in life are priceless. They can never be repaid off or repaid with.”

This is a novel we should  give a round of thunderous applause and a standing ovation. Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Heed me folks!  You read it. I am sure, you can’t bring yourself to proceed to another heart-wrenching parts and end up  liking it a whole lot. Then, you will act like a child pulling  your friends’, publishers’ , or writers’ crumpled hems to draw their attention to it. He can be a promising writer. I bet my  boots.

Congratulations  to Mr. Soumyadeep Koley on his debut novel! 🙂

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it. )