- Hardcover: 296 pages
- Publisher: RHI; 1st edition (1 September 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 818400074X
- ISBN-13: 978-8184000740
- Package Dimensions: 20 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories Hardcover – 1 Sep 2012
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About the Author
Janice Pariat is a writer and poet who hails from Northeast India. She is the first writer from Meghalaya to be honoured with the Sahitya Akademi for her debut work in English. Born in Assam, Pariat divided her childhood between Shillong and other tea estates in Assam. With a BA in English Literature from St Stephen's College in New Delhi, Pariat also holds an MA in the History of Art and Archaeology from SOAS, University of London. The writer founded Pyrta, an online literary journal, of which she is the editor. Her works have been featured in a number of national and international magazines. Two of her poetical works are the Yellow Nib Modern English Poetry By Indians and Kavi Kala: The Visual Poetry Project.
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Top customer reviews
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I have read this book quite some time back yet I intentionally held on to myself from writing a review of this book because the amount of emotions that I went through while reading this book was simply unexpected and I wanted to capture each of them. But even after re-reading a couple of stories, I feel oddly unequipped to review this book.
There are fifteen stories in all, starting with ‘A Waterfall of Horses’ and ending with ‘An Aerial View’. While one story tells us about the various struggles between the British and the locals, there’s another that talks about the local superstition. A third story tells as about the various divisions in people, another story tells us about the school life affected by the local political scene. Every time I think about this book I am still surprised by the varied subjects touch by this author - from various myths and legends, to the local beliefs and superstitions of the people at that time, Janice has painted a superb and complete picture of the North East India during the early days of British Raj by including the political, social and cultural scenario of the time.
Telling short stories is a form of art that very few people can master and I for one have only enjoyed O’Henry, Jefferey Archer and Anita Desai so far. Even Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies had me in its grip. And now it is Janice Pariat. Though each of these authors are VERY different from each other in almost every aspect, and I am not comparing Janice with these greats… But Janice has clearly made her own space in Short Story world and over the time we may even see her name with the other greats.
I was born in Shillong, but my family moved to Guwahati following the unrest against migrants settled in this town. Growing up, I remember, every time I visited Shillong there was a strange feeling in me that I could not put into words. Reading this book made me go through the same feeling, all these years and miles away from those hills.
Janice writes about folklore, water fairies, ancient forests with spirits, in vivid time zones ranging from the Raj Era to the civil unrest in the region. In her stories, the town’s people grapple with change, and the hopeful youth who leave for greener pastures look back at the green of their childhood. Her prose is littered with Khasi and ethnic words, lending an authenticity and mystery to the stories rather than alienating the reader which some writers often end up with when they use too many native words. Some of her stories had the same quality of making you feel like you are looking down an endless well, that one associates with Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood”. I was left smiling at her ability to pull off same-sex attraction in some of her stories without the use of any shock appeal.
It’s heartening to see a book set in North-East India that focuses on the beauty of the region rather than lamenting about how the mainstream India ignores it. If you have never been to North-East India, then grab this book because you will be carried off to a land where the spirits talk to you in dreams, while it’s physical isolation and beauty attacks your senses. If you are someone who has either visited or lived there, you should read it to make a nostalgic trip filled with a renewed sense of wonder.
As for me, I am recovering from a dream.
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