Tanya Tania by Antara Ganguli

Tanya Tania by Antara Ganguli

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction, Drama
Imprint: Bloomsbury, India
ISBN: 9789384898410

Antara Ganguli is a Gender and Development Specialist with UNICEF. She is also a writer. He debut novel is Tanya Tania.

Tanya, a Pakistani-American in Karachi starts to write letters to Tania, an Indian in Bombay, now Mumbai. The story is set in the times of Babri Masjid issue, 1992. The two girls are poles apart in characteristics, yet they connect with each other as they continue to exchange letter. The story is in epistolary form, but in two timelines. 1992 and after three years. The girls write to each other in 1992 but stop writing after a few months. Why? Not because of the Babri Masjid issue and the fact that Tanya is a Muslim. Then why do they stop writing to each other? Only Tanya keeps writing to Tania after three years only to stop after a few letter. Why? You will get your answers only from Tania.

Antara creates characters that are too real. Though the story is set during a real-life incident, it is a fictitious story but difficult to believe so. Tanya’s and Tania’s mothers are best friends since college in the USA. Tanya is your typical Miss Goody Two Shoes, trying to study well and get into a good university back in the USA. Tania is also your typical Queen Bee, trying to keep her boyfriend to herself and be more famous in school. Tanya has Chhoti Bibi whom she treats just the way she has to treat a servant. Tania has Nusrat whom she considers her best friend but is also her servant. Tanya has a twin brother. Tania has an elder brother already studying in the States. Tanya’s parents, American mother and Pakistani father, once very much in love with each other, don’t quarrel but don’t talk to each other either. Tania’s parents quarrel often but love each other. So different from one another, yet so relatable.

Tanya starts writing to Tania because of her mother’s suggestion. After stopping to write in a few months, Tanya again starts to write to Tania because of her psychiatrist’s suggestion after three years. I felt like Tanya is a blinded horse. Tania has a mind of her own and knows what she wants. I could relate to Tanya throughout the story, but in the end, I could not. I was able to imagine the narration of Antara Ganguli, as if I was watching a movie and not reading a book. I can’t tell you more than that. You have to read the book. YOU HAVE TO!

Yes, I recommend this book to every reader.

Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

Review by Venkatesha M

This is a collection of nine different stories, an honest attempt to throw light on various customs which are still in practice in Modern India.

Author Dalrymple travelled across India and Sindh region in Pakistan and tried to cover Nine different lives in this book. Stories include customs from Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism and also forms of Tantric practices. Each story in the book starts with introduction to a specific custom and runs into the biography of an individual.

Entire book is on the theme ‘Faith’ and ‘Principles’. I liked all the stories in the book. In a few stories, Dalrymple tried to show difficulties faced by some of the backward communities in India. I couldn’t agree with this part as many things about caste system are changed in Modern India. You can see that Author has done lot of research and travelled to different places for this book.

My personal favourites from the book are ‘The Nun’s Tale’, ‘The Monk’s Tale’ and ‘The Maker of Idols’. Author also explains how the Modern India is a threat to the continuation of these traditions. Most of the customs are hereditary in nature and the new generation is not interested as they are more intended towards alluring professions. Personally I have seen similar cases of Gen-Y not willing to continue the family business which is also affecting few traditions mentioned in the book.

There are few poems/songs translated to English. I will definitely suggest this book.

One of the poems:

“My soul cries out,
Caught in the snare of beauty,
Of the formless one.

As I cry by myself,
Night and day,
Beauty amassed before my eyes,
Surpasses moons and suns.

If I look at the clouds in the sky,
I see his beauty afloat.
And I see him walk on the stars,
Blazing within my heart”