I entered a giveaway Faber & Faber hosted on twitter, where the prize was the books they’d published that week, and for the first time in my life I actually won. I was so excited that I squealed. I didn’t even know that was a thing that could happen to me until that moment.
The first book I won was Ghachar Ghochar by Indian author Vivek Shanbhag and translated to English by Srinath Perur. The synopsis reads:
”When an impoverished but close-knit family undergoes an almost miraculous change in fortune, allegiances and desires realign, a marriage falls apart, and tensions build unstoppably towards a devastating conflict. In this transformative novel by the acclaimed Indian writer Vivek Shanbhag, a family’s unexpected ascent from ant-infested shack to middle-class living skilfully peels away the veneer of an aspirational society. The family’s world becomes ‘ghachar ghochar’ – a nonsense phrase that, to the restless, unnamed narrator of the book, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Told in clear, compelling prose, and underscored by warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a captivating and unsettling story about the shifting meaning – and consequences – of financial gain in contemporary India. It is a fable for modern living that will resonate everywhere.“
I must admit that I’m not very well read when it comes to contemporary fiction set outside of Europe or North America. It’s a fact I’m not proud of, but one I’m changing. Ghachar Ghochar has gotten amazing reviews so I’m guessing it’s a good place to start broadening my horizon.
The second book I received was a poetry collection called Doves by Lachlan Mackinnon. The synopsis reads:
”Doves is Lachlan Mackinnon’s most candid and affecting volume of poems to date, and follows on from Small Hours, shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Poetry in 2010. Formally dexterous and inventive, these inclusive, approachable poems welcome all-comers in their broad-minded address: refugees, reality television, detective shows, number-theory, Shakespeare’s brothers, ecology, a marriage.
Wherever it turns, the poetry remains courageously sociable and moral, ever concerned with honouring lives and good deeds, and asking what can be saved from the ruins of what is lost by individuals, cultures and civilisations. But for all its outward gaze, its cares speak privately too – of crises in personal action and belief, of friends and intimacies disturbed and renewed – and, underpinning it all, an urging to account for our behaviour and ‘to start to answer / to ourselves for what we have made of life.’
Doves is an uplifting account of recovery that makes no stranger of despair. But with each moment of despondency comes a tough-minded – even humorous – response that tempers grief, and bolsters our equipment for living, and in so doing extends a timeless ring around the heart of this thoughtful, inspiriting and memorable book“
Poetry is generally hit or miss for me. This collection sounds interesting and as far as I can tell it should be comprehensible to poetry lovers of every shape and size.