SimSim By Geet Chaturvedi

 


·        Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (6 February 2023); Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd.

·        Language ‏ : ‎ English

·        Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 296 pages

·        Buy At        : Amazon

 

Book Blurb:

Old Basar Mal remembers his love and homeland that he lost in Sindh, Pakistan during the Partition. A young graduate gets into an imaginary relationship with a girl at a yellow window. The Mumbai land mafia is after Basar Mal and his library. A chatty book cover relates the plight of books. A silent Mangan's ma washes and feeds a plastic doll she thinks is her son.

Poignantly written by Geet Chaturvedi, a major Hindi writer, and beautifully translated by Anita Gopalan, Simsim is a struggle between memory, imagination, and reality- an exquisitely crafted book that fuses the voices of remarkable yet relatable characters to weave a tale of seeking happiness, fulfilling passion, and reconciling with loss. Simsim is charming, and wonderfully original.

 

Book Review:

I have personally always been drawn towards partition literature. So, as expected, the chapters where Old Basar Mal reminisces his youthful days in undivided Hindustan and his lost love of teenage years, are my favorite. And what more fascinating than the backdrop of a rather dilapidated library which had seen yesteryears of readers and crowd thronging its corridors. It kind of reminded me of Aanchal Malhotra’s family history and refugee experience where began the origin story of Bahrisons Bookshop in Delhi’s Khan Market.

Old Bastar Mal captures memories in smells and fragrances. He remembers his lost love from the aroma of guava. The tale of escape from riot strife Sindh, going back to search for Jaam in guise of a Muslim stick fighter to survive there, and the final escape after disappointment of the tragedy that stuck her family, was such a harrowing tale, it filled me with dread. Partition tales do raise such emotions, even though read multiple times. The evergreen love story legend of Sassi Punnu, penned first by poet Shah Abdul Latif, draws parallel analogies to the lost love of Old Bastar Mal. It reminded me of Moomal Rano, another timeless tale of love.

The prose reminisces memories of the land lost in partition; a land now inaccessible. Sindh- a lost landscape. We see Old Bastar Mal recreate life from scratch once again as a refugee. He started the library for livelihood, which once was teeming with people from all walks of life, and is now empty, books devoid of readers. 

We see a young lad who imagines love for a girl in the yellow window. There is Dil Khush, who owns a sambose and tea shop but his shop is shut down by crook and the land is usurped for another business.

The prose is rife with poetic elements, lyrical phrases, beautiful tapestry of metaphors. Lush and brimming with emotions. It is so full of feeling, for memory, imagination and reality. A reader loves when a book suggests other books for her TBR. 






Love the quotes at the beginning of every chapter. 


About the Author:

Geet Chaturvedi is one of the most widely read contemporary literary authors in Hindi. Often considered as an 'avant-garde', he has published 11 books and his works have been translated into 22 languages. He served as an editor at Dainik Bhaskar for 16 years. He was awarded Bharat Bhushan Agrawal Award for poetry, Krishna Pratap Award for fiction, Shailesh Matiyani Award for fiction, Krishna Baldev Vaid award for fiction, Syed Haider Raza Fellowship for Fiction writing. He was named one of ‘Ten Best Writers’ of India by the English Daily Indian Express.

 

About the Translator:

Anita Gopalan is a writer, translator, and stock trader. She is the recipient of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and a fellowship in English Literature from the Indian Ministry of Culture. She has translated Geet Chaturvedi’s The Memory of Now (Anomalous Press). Her work has appeared in AGNIPEN America, Two Lines, Poetry International, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, The Offing, Words without Borders, Modern Poetry in Translation, and elsewhere.

 

This review is powered by Blogchatter Book Review Program.

Comments

  1. Lovely review, Pratikshya. I am also excited to finish my hindi version and talk about it.

    ReplyDelete

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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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