Last year, saw the publication of my debut novel, The Secret Proposal. The book was reviewed by several sites and a lot of people...but this review, till date, turned out to be the most detailed one. And somehow my favorite. It was written by a senior in college... :)
Thank you so much for the review!
Thank you so much for the review!
Writing is not easy. As a vocation or an avocation it tends to be, to say the very least, both demanding and exacting. There are several occasions when one sits down to write and finds oneself rewriting the same sentence over and over and over and over again. There is always something or the other wrong: it sounds too much like X or reads too much like a novel by K or sometimes it just seems plain stupid. This is usually around when one decides to abandon the exercise altogether or defer it for a later time when writing “comes” to one. After all there is only that much one can with words because frankly and increasingly so, it seems all that could have possibly been done with the written word has been done. Hence the search for novelty for one’s novel is apparently a truly futile enterprise. One is plagued and especially if one has had the good or bad fortune of having studied literature institutionally, by one question only: to read or not to read. One is of the belief that if one is to write well one must read a belief that comes crashing down when one finds too much of X or K or P,Q,R in one’s writing. Then again it may not be a bad thing too. One simply follows a model only because it has established itself as viable and even successful. These are the dilemmas that plague the well-read and well-informed literary writer.
Given these dilemmas when a fellow-traveller (i.e. a creature who after one’s own kind has studied literature) comes up with a novel, despite the sense of insufficiency that the study of literature instils in a budding author, one has no choice but to regard this as commendable. It requires great courage to be able to see one’s words in print... to allow something so close to one’s being to be read by all and sundry... to be analysed and criticised... an amount of courage that I seem unable to muster up... which is why I take great pride and joy in congratulating Miss Brahma on the publication of her first novel The Secret Proposal. I have read it and I can say that I didn’t put it down until I had finished reading the entire of it. There are some parts I liked and others that I didn’t care too much for. I resent that a certain market that is the pride of the heart of old colonial Calcutta has been reported to be situated in South Kolkata in the novel but that as I am given to learn was an error in editing and can be pardoned. Miss Brahma has done a fine job with drawing the characters of the protagonists around whom the world of the novel revolves. Every person who has lived in Kolkata will be able to relate to the myriad of emotions the days of Durja Pujo evoke and the fact that it involves the coming together of people and at times even “life altering” experiences. One can say with resolute certainty that the characters of Jasmine and Veer ‘work’ because there are several instances in the novel where the reader will be tempted to bop Jasmine on the head and punch Veer in the face both simultaneously and separately. As far as the success of the novel as a love story is concerned it has all the fundamentals in place: love (of course), drama, humour and even action. What’s not to like?
One honestly need not always find the articulation of great philosophical truths in all writing. Sometimes writing can just be entertaining; something that takes your mind off things. In one conversation regarding her novel Miss Brahma had said to me that she wanted to bring romance/the love story back and I believe she is very much on her way to doing that if she keeps-up. This novel is in the truest sense all about the love story. A love story bereft of the angsty ontological and epistemological moorings on the possibility or impossibility of love. It delivers what it promises. No more and no less. One can, if one desires nit-pick, say the style needs refinement and one wouldn’t be entirely wrong but that only takes away from what this novel has, as they say, “going for itself”... Style will mature over time and Miss Brahma will evolve into a finer writer than she was at the time she wrote The Secret Proposal but for the time being I would ask of her to bask in the feeling of seeing one’s own work in print and feeling the exhilarating anxiety of knowing that several unknown eyeballs are glued to her first novel. I congratulate you once again for all afore stated reasons and look forward to your best work in the years to come.
- SATISH KUMAR