Book: Her Resurrection
Author: Soumyadeep Koley
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
Genre: Literary Fiction
In One Line: Like a phoenix, Maya, the protagonist of this story, rose from the ashes every time she was doused in one.
Characterisation: It is Maya’s story all the way. And yes, she is truly Maya – the power by which the universe becomes manifest. How else can one who has gone through so much make it to where she reaches ultimately? Maybe it’s the ‘woman strength’? Or maybe this is the kind of courage that one develops after one is completely broken. Maya’s character has been so deeply developed that she feels real. While reading the story, more than once, I asked myself whether she is someone who the author really knows. So, here’s a question for him – is she real?
The other characters play their part well. Right from Siddharth – disgusting photographer who turns sissy at the mention of a child, to Maya’s horrid alcoholic father, to her gutsy mother, to the ‘shitty’ Shittuppam, to Damien – her ‘saviour’. Even Sucharita, who is ‘positive’, and who comes into the story for only a few lines, leaves her mark. This might be the author’s debut novel, but I believe, that only when one feels emotionally attached to the subject that he’s writing on and has, in some part of his life, really experienced it, can such writing come out.
Language: The author is a woman’s right activist and it is brought out in the way he has narrated the story. He knows what he is writing about. the way he tells the tale has all the information in place (and sometimes quite a lot of it that’s difficult to digest) and yet he leaves you teary eyed. His writing is a smartly packaged one.
There is one paragraph in the story in chapter 3, where the author describes the places that Maya wants to visit and capture with her camera. It’s my favourite description in the story.
Plot Setting: One reads the city names Mumbai and Jaipur but the tale is so set that opportunities to describe nuances of the cities are minimal. Of course, the Arabian Sea and it’s changing colours that one sees in the financial capital of the country, like always, hasn’t been forgotten by the author. Also, reminders of certain places in cities Kolkata and Mumbai – like the Sonagachi brothel in the former – are starkly brought out towards the end of the story. And it will take more than a strong heart to read through these portions without choking.
Book Cover Art: The painting of the girl’s face in different hues conveyed a layered meaning to me. The red lips a sign of determination of never to give up, the purple around the eyes that flows down like tears – a reflection of the shame that she felt, the orange around the purple colour cancels out the shame and brings out the vitality of spirit, the smudged bindi symbolic of the non-acceptance by society of girls who are prostitutes and the constant blame on the girl that’s put when she’s raped.
For a change, the back cover also has imagery that conveys meanings. The puppet a sign of our society where women are considered to be puppets in the hands of the men, the fort a symbol of the confined lives that girls live after being raped because they are too scared to open up, the sand a symbol ‘sands of time’ and how one gets lost in it and finally the man pulling the camel on which the woman sits symbolising that moment in time when someone will come to pull you out of your misery. This last bit – yes, it always happens.
How’s the Title: The word ‘resurrection’ brings to mind Jesus. Maybe that’s why the author has written the word without a capital letter and added the ‘her’ to it. Resurrection means ‘rising from the dead’. It’s apt because that’s what Maya’s life is all about. And she dies not once many time. Right from her father calling her a burden, to being gang raped, to prostitution, to being thrown out of a job because of her part history, to becoming an alcoholic, to being treated for insanity, to abortion, to her mother’s death, to Damien’s loss. But each time she rises from the death-blow.
The subtitle – A Survivor’s Journey of Emancipation, Reclamation and Redemption – I felt could have been shorter. ‘A survivor’s journey’ would have sufficed. Two strong words – resurrection and survivor would have been enough to tell the reader what he could expect from the story.
Is The Blurb Catchy: The blurb captures the essence of the story well and tells as much as needed while playing on the emotion of the human heart too. But some sentences like “lonesome beacon beset by sinister wilderness” seems a little too poetic for the blurb.
Learning From The Story: Some subjects might be difficult to weave a story around. so, pick those only if you know a lot about. Only research from books and magazines won’t give it the depth that personal experience will. I feel that this book has turned out so well simply because the author has seen it for real during his counselling sessions.
Areas Of Improvement: It’s tough to write a book like this. It takes guts to pen such thoughts without flinching. But, somewhere, I felt that the sorrows that Maya faced were one too many. Yes, we all face challenges, tough times, bitterness, but somewhere we find our peace and happiness too. Why doesn’t Maya ever find it. Somewhere she should have been given her share of smiles too.
In all fairness, I don’t know whether to call this an ‘area of improvement’, but I feel that it was not needed – the author needn’t have given the English meaning of the Hindi words. We don’t find any foreign authors explaining theirs!
What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: Life will never constantly be a bed of roses. We have to seek motivation to live from within ourselves. And, for as long as we are breathing, we always have a chance to change things. He actually says this very thing to his readers when he writes about ++, the doctor who treats Maya for her mental instability, who shows her the cancer stricken man who is writing his novel with a promise to himself that he won’t die before he is done with it.
My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book:
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