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I believe this to be a work to remember., 18. Januar 2000
I read this book on January 13, 1998. I read it again just last month. I haven't changed my opinion. I have read the 460+ reviews that followed my first nearly two years ago. I was glad to read all of the comments harsh or heralding. This book is not ordinary and I think if placed side by side with most others, may prove to be disappointing to many. So don't compare it to anything and read it for what it is.
It is as awkward as the minds of each and every character illustrated in the 321 pages of the book. Nothing is simple or clear cut. Life isn't that way so why should anyone expect this book be neat and clean? It's not. In fact it gets down right ugly and dirty. That is the beauty of it.
I think the one thing that amazes me with readers is their lack of patience. Intertwined with all the jumping between time references and all the unfinished points trying to be made, it is telling a story. Like a child who tries to tell their impatient parent about the six million things that happened from minute one of their day, this story teller attempts to give you all the information with as much enthusiasm and self importance. As with any child, the story teller will digress an infinite number of times before the events have been completely accounted for. Step out of your own ego long enough to be able to receive it. And be patient! There may be some painfully vivid discription of events. There are moments you will laugh. You may want to cry in anger or frustration and even stop reading but you wont stay away for long. You can't.
If you feel any of these things after reading the book then the efforts of Ms. Roy to convey her story will most certainly have been a success! I don't think the story was intended to make a statement about Communism or even the caste system. What does a child know of these things? In India I saw children playing side by side with each other with little or no regard for political affiliations. It's just a story people. Enjoy the courageuous effort it took to tell it.