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

Image result for emancipation and her resurrection

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. )

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Gaydar by Danton Remoto: A Book Review

gaydarThe word   GAYDAR  is the blend  of “gay” and “radar”. Radar as  you   learned from your  science book  is a scientific method of finding position of things such as missiles   by sending out radio waves.  In other words, figuratively speaking, GAYDAR as defined in the book  is  the innate ability to spot another gay man no matter how hard he tries to hide his being gay. In this way, a gaydar associating with straight-acting men or paminta in Filipino after  drawing off his radio waves will  break the news under his breath  that  a very Adonis  man women slobber over   turns out to be  part of  the confederation. Yaaayy!

My  university  gay friend   introduced me to Danton Remoto’s Ladlad : An Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing.   The book is a collection of  different stories and poems written by different gay writers including his own oeuvres. In fact, some were written  in Filipino. Most of the articles are erotic in language, so  my reaction then since it was my first time to read such genre was some kinda prudish  pursing my lips and arching my brows. I thought that reading such  book is balderdash;  it’s raunchy. So I did not like reading it much, especially I had no any ideas of his literary styles.  But over time, I realized why Remoto , along with his award-winning  co-author J. Neil C. Garcia, published  such LAMBDA-Literary- Award-winning piece . Danton Remoto then was an active LGBT advocate.  Thus, I had a rude awakening as though I had  come out of my made-in-narra  closet.

This  is a compilation  of  Danton Remoto’s  personal essays which were published in  The Philippine Star  from 1997 and 1999. He wrote about his  growing up  as a student abroad , with his family  and friends , and  his advocacy for the LGBT community. In effect,  all of his essays are seethed in the same theme: life of being  a gay in the Philippines.  Also, he  even wrote  about the  dilemmas   such as the political circus and irresponsible journalism with which he had faced  when he was still an advocate of LGBT.

I appreciated Danton Remoto’s writing styles now. As one of his commentators  put before, he writes with substance. Most of his articles cling to reality, which knock the day light  out of an idealistic reader, notably the clerics for an example.  He associates his ideas with the social issues  in metaphorical forms-typical of  Philippine writing. You can relate to what he is trying to drive at such as mentioning some  Philippine culture to justify his   conspicuous advocacy. In addition, I am envious of   his beautiful prose and clarity of writing.  He really knows his stuff which   must have given   him a credible name  in the modern Philippine literature.

Some writers are like crusaders . They  put their  talent for writing  , although  such skill can be learned, to good  use ,  especially to  making a big difference in society. For instance, black writers   in the past just the likes of Harriet Beecher Stowe,  Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, not to mention one of my favorite contemporary writers, Toni Morison  , et al used their writing skills as their  weapons to express their suppressible  and dormant desires to  revolt against the culture of  racial  discrimination.  In terms of  crusade against putrid perception about homosexuality, the only one popped into my mind was Oscar Wilde. Alas, he ended up in jail, for the society at that time was too vast to engulf him.  As the history serves and  since I have not been familiar with  famous Philippine writers yet, Danton Remoto , along with J. Neil C. Garcia , is the only openly gay writer who has the audacity  to do so  using his  flamboyantly decorated  saber of writing.

A salute to you, Professor Danton Remoto! ^^

Rating : 5/ 5 stars

Marked By Fire by Joyce Carol Thomas: A Book Review

marked-by-fireIt bears a little resemblance to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye ( 5 stars). Both deal with RAPE and were eventually banned from American studies since it is a children’s novel. However, it is not as astounding as T. Morrison’s. There is nothing new to it. The story is very plain and seems lack of strong elements to catch my imagination although I felt Joyce Carol Thomas’ may- have –been- intention.

All I could I feel was that the characteristics of the protagonist, Abbysinia- she is possessed with Pollyanna attitude. She is innocent, positive about life, congenial, amiable and enthusiastic for her devotion to religion as she is influenced by her significant others despite the tragedy befalls her. In addition, the names of the characters add to the mood and tone of the plots and settings such as PATIENCE and STRONG, along with his THE BETTER WAY Barbershop, which might have symbolic meanings. Thus, I read it with a light touch.

Unlike Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the only problem with this is that it sounds lackadaisical. The passages are too weak, gentle and lack of strong, vivid words to feel the emotions-let alone the negative feelings of the characters. All I could feel were goody feelings as if the characters dissimulate their true feelings by turning to religion, as though I were one of the characters wanted to vent my stuffy feelings. So I was boggled at how come it met the standards of winning the National Book Award. In comparisons with the other runner-ups, although I have not read them yet, I bet my boots that one of them should have been worth deserving of the award. But one thing I am certain about is that as I said before, panelists could be subjective. In this case, religious beliefs are one of the factors skewing their opinions.

The novel is said to have something to do with Joyce Carol Thomas’s personal accounts. She had deeper impression from her childhood experience in her hometown.

I don’t mean to underestimate it. Perhaps it is not my cup of tea or there is nothing new to the story since I have read such novel several times . I wish she had written it in a different style.

Rating: 1/ 5 stars 

Boy: Tales of Childhood (Roald Dahl Autobiography #1) by Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (Illustrator): A Book Review

dahlI am very fond of reading books about children’s bitter experiences. Perhaps I believe in American psychologist, Erik Fromm’s belief that “ to understand children, we, adults, try to think like a child again.”Unfortunately, not all adults are aware of this fact. That’s why the main purpose of literature is to educate people about life, basically about children life.

I have read some books about children. I can hardly ever forget Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt ( 5 stars ), The Butcher’s Boy by Patrick McCabe ( 3 stars ), Torey Hayden’s books such as The Innocent Child and its sequel The Tiger’s Child ( I was so generous to fault to give both 5 stars at that time when I was not yet critical on Good Reads. ) I also cried over the classical books such as Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Even Beloved by Toni Morrison, one of my favorite fictional writers , punched my chest although the character is a young teen-ager gives eerie feelings. For local books, one is the Connecting the Dots by Gojo Cruz ( 5 stars ) which author swept me off my feet. ( laughs ) Such books are awash in the same theme: human cruelty in children, perhaps, out of ignorance.

This book of Road Dahl is one of the books above. This may be intended to make readers laugh. Of course, I did. However, the real highlight of this , even Dahl admitted it at the end of the story, is his miserable experiences as a student in the hands of his school head masters, teachers, and matrons. ( or you’d rather I put it bluntly , under the rotten educational system in Britain at that time ) Dahl narrated how he was such a poor innocent child . He was an archetype of educational upbringing. He had been beaten many times. So had his classmates. He had been humiliated and treated unfairly. So had his classmates. Admittedly, I abandoned myself to his said stories. If I had been his classmate at that time, I would have been so defiant that I could have been booted out. ( laughs ) So , the title of this book fits all the stories- Boys: Tales of Childhood.

I always want to be an active advocate for children’s rights, particularly for their education. Like Dahl, I was also a victim of wrong education from teachers who may have been ignorant of child psychology. As a teacher now , I believe in teaching students based on their individualism.

The good thing about this is that Road Dahl was still able to make us laugh despite those harboring ill-feelings. He was like a friend I have just made, sharing his ala Thomas-Sawyer stories. The atmosphere he built was so amiable that I felt sympathy for him. In addition, reading it was so easy unlike the other autobiographies or novels about children which require higher level of thinking. He narrated his stories age by age and every sentence is well-written. Since it is a children book, I hope young readers take precious lessons from it. And I do not think that it should be banned from the hands of young readers just like of what happened to his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which received negative criticism. Duty on their distorted realities! ^^

Road Dahl said in his preface that an autobiography for him is full of all sorts of boring details. If I take him for his words, what he meant to say I believe is like what the famous American writer, William Arthur Ward, said:

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”

Yippee! ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars