Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Vigil- Stories of love, prejudice, greed and life





This review by Trisha Ray is a part of Readers Cosmos Book Review Programme. You can follow them on Twitter for interesting book updates and free books.

A book of short stories is often a difficult feat to pull off. The reader usually comes away with lasting impressions (if any) of only a few of the numerous tales in a compilation. However, Gita V Reddy has written some really brilliant and memorable stories. We get glimpses into the lives of vibrant, fleshed-out characters, animated by desires and motives that we all can understand.

The author explores the many facets of life- choices and consequences, heartbreak, longing, chaos, doubt, friendships and family. Some stories will leave you smiling; others may even elicit an “Amen”.

Many of her stories have a strong feminist theme, but for the most part each one is distinct.

Four friends from Art school - Amit, Smriti, Yashwant and Shree, having achieved varying levels of success, meet one weekend to determine whose skill is the most “superior”. They all come away from the experience, irreversibly changed. The story unexpectedly turns into a philosophical musing on the purpose of life and what drives creative endeavours. The premise is brilliant, but fails to leave a lasting impression, being limited by the format of a short story.

The wife of a famous actor finds herself in a precarious position as she struggles with her husband’s deteriorating mental state. Devika dives into an intricate game of chess with her husband, as she tries desperately to keep his sanity intact. The twist ending is a slightly clich├ęd but still heart-warming testament to selfless love.

Sita calls out desperately to her mother, as she loses her children to the man she had once loved. We get a new perspective on the epic Ramayana, detailing the series of events that took place after the triumphant return from Lanka that culminated in Sita’s death. Sita bemoans the loss of her Ram, a man capable of great love and generosity to Rama Chandra, the dutiful king, who prioritises his subjects over all else. She finds that nothing can ever be the same as it was in the happy early days of the exile. This theme is without doubt very fashionable now, but discussions of strong female characters destroyed by “honour” and bigotry are needed in modern discourse.


Ms Reddy can tell compelling stories. Her words flow pleasingly, and with the rise in hyper-minimalist language that accompanied social media, her well-constructed prose was a much-needed reaffirmation of the power of good, clean language. Not once did I feel bored, and I almost wish there were more. I look forward to a full-length novel from her.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, have you heard about the Warning! not to be ignored..

    Take Care

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  2. You are an excellent critic of literature :)
    The Ramayan has indeed become fashionable. I wonder is a particular series on this blog is to be blamed for this. :P

    P.S. Out of 10, how many points will you give it?

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    1. Thanks :) 7 out of 10. It was pretty good.

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  4. Am tempted to pick it up after reading your review.

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    1. You should definitely give it a roll! I was pleasantly surprised :)

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  5. I somehow like short small stories , you can read one at one go, I dont have patience so cant wait for the next time i have free time to read ahead :)

    Bikram

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    1. Every reader is unique. I personally prefer the slow build-up of a novel.

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  6. That seems interesting. I have always been a huge fan of short stories, esp from the time I read RKN.. Sounds like a book to pick up :)..

    PS: Really cool to see the awards on the right side of the screen.. Damn cool :)

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    1. Yep, a good short story is a mini indulgence. I suggest Ishiguro's Nocturnes.

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    2. Thank you, recognition for your work is the best kind of encouragement.

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  7. Never heard of this author...thanks for introducing...

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    1. All thanks to the Cosmos book review program :)

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  8. Sounds nice... I think I should go for it... :-)

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    1. Yes, do! And the stories really capture a range of everyday experiences and themes which make them very relatable.

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  9. Not easy to pull off short stories, yes. Trisha, I remember enjoying Manjul Bajaj's Another Mans Wife and Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies.

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    1. Yep. Haven't read Another Mans Wife, will pick it up :)

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  10. Hey that's a deft social critic and analytic review. Brilliant work n keep it up:6

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Psst... let me know what you are thinking.

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