BookReview – Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler and The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay @dylanthomprize #SUDTP20 @yazzarf #StubbornArchivist #TheFarField @midaspr

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize

I was very honoured be asked to take part in this blog tour

I chose two titles to review Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

Review

I chose this book to review for the Dylan Thomas award because I’m drawn to books about life in Asia, particularly India

This is an extraordinarily vivid debut. The theme of the book is a retrospective view of a thirty year old woman looking back on the events of her life as a younger woman.

The story which was slow to start in the beginning, follows the life of Shalini, then a twenty four year old young woman from Bangalore. Shalini is from a fairly prosperous background. Her father was a factory owner and they lived comfortably.

Shalini’s mother died and partly through grief and her own questioning nature she decides to set out on a 2000 mile adventure to find the home of a salesman Bashir Ahmed from Kashmir who was a regular visitor to her childhood home. Shalini’s mother had a waspish nature and a quick intellect, prone to sarcasm and often difficult to be around. She didn’t suffer fools gladly and found her own peer group annoying and duplicitous. At social gatherings she could be very rude and enjoyed seeing the effects her words could have on people and appeared immune to the sympathetic looks given to her husband for having to cope with such a wife.

Bashir Ahmed the salesman from Kashmir developed a rapport with her and after her death there were questions that Shalini her daughter wanted answering.

After a long and arduous journey, Shalini is initially welcomed into the home of a Muslim family who promise to track down the family of Bashir to show her their home.

Although the military presence in the area is apparently benign, there are rumours and stories of missing family members who are never seen again.

Bashir’s son Razir eventually appears and Shalini is taken to his home in as mountainous area where his young son and wife Amina also live.

Once more another family make Shalini feel welcome, with the exception of Razir who isn’t happy and wants to live elsewhere. Living an almost idyllic life up in the mountains, with an offer of a teaching job, Shalini can picture a life for herself. Until she is unwittingly drawn into a drama that she isn’t responsible for but becomes inexplicably drawn into.

At 448 pages, this is a lengthy book but to shorten it would have meant a huge loss to the story and wonderfully descriptive prose

Also chose Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

Review

I found this unusual book a joy to read. Unconventional and non traditional. I chose this book to review because I liked the quirky cover

The lack of speech quotes to signify dialogue did not detract from my enjoyment of reading this book.

The protagonist in this book is a young British-Brazilian woman growing up in South London.

Bilingual and living with her parents. An English father called Richard and a Brazilian mother. Both are doctors.

We are never told her name, only that it has an unusual spelling. The beginning of the book reads like a stanza with poetic lines and I could have gladly read the whole book in that way. Full of nuance and hidden meaning it worked.

The first section was about her one romantic encounter when she was very young, barely of legal age, with a boyfriend who to that point had only had an encounter with her culture when he watched Brazilian porn and wanted her to grow her hair longer.

Sometimes pages of the book only had lines of unconventional text or Portuguese.

The book switches between time periods going back and forth between several. When the author is with her Brazilian family members in holiday she’s referred to as ‘the baby’.

Holidays In Brazil are enjoyed often and usually seasonal, around Christmas time, when they escape the cold grey of English winter to the warm Brazilian climate in São Paulo. To visit Vovô Felipe her Brazilian grandfather and Vovó Cecília her grandmother and other family members.

She suffers from IBS and often mornings are a struggle, coping with cramps and becoming acquainted with the floor of the toilet in the office of her workplace, while she waits for the cramps to pass.

Working in the offices of a TV production company, she’s employed because of her Brazilian half nationality and helps to research the familiar but stereotypical view of Brazil. The plastic surgery and young girls in bikinis.

Interesting, non conventional and quirky.

Thanks to Midas PR for sending me the books and allowing me to take part

4 thoughts on “BookReview – Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler and The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay @dylanthomprize #SUDTP20 @yazzarf #StubbornArchivist #TheFarField @midaspr

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