The Dove's Lament Paperback – 2015
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The Dove's Lament is a journey that takes you around the world, bringing to life the human side of conflicts that tear people apart. From the genocide in Rwanda, to war-stricken Bosnia, from child marriages in India to prostitution and drug trafficking in Colombia, these stories traverse a microcosm of reality. Be it the manifestation of Bacha Baazi in Afghanistan, or the fight for paradise on Earth, Kashmir, the repertoire of stories lend a soul to what otherwise remain a muddle of news reports and statistics. Through these stories, Kirthi embroiders a tapestry of the unvanquished human spirit in varied shades, and shakes you up to the reality that surrounds you.
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Heartwarming, heart wrenching…stories that appeal, yet appall. Hats off to Kirthi Jayakumar who sees so much at such a young age.
The opening story, Genocide, is a smart placement. It sets the tone for the rest of the book and teaches you that while you cool your heels and your biggest problem is what to cook, a whole population has a communal memory of hatred to heal from. This story shows you how courage looks in war. The second story, Fire in a Ring of Ice, takes you from Rwanda to Srebrenica where it reflects on another genocide, but also shows you how hope looks in war. If you followed the news in those dark times, you would know that Rwanda and Kosovo were the two nations that world politics had to choose from. What the NATO chose became the subject of much criticism, as it ignored the other in exercising its choice. But these two stories and their strategic placement makes you realise how genocide and war don't differentiate - man does, always. From thereon, we go to Israel and Palestine, where For the Love of a Motherland tells you the story of the fresh wounds of war and occupation, and Home shows you how those wounds look when they become scars. These stories show you the face of resilience in war. Then, we go to Sacrifice, where we see the horrific crime of Bacha Baazi split a family apart in the heartland of Afghanistan. If you think this story is touching, wait. The big mover is yet to come. The Smallest Coffins comes next, and takes you to Peshawar, where children are butchered at the altar of conflict. The story is hauntingly beautiful, and leaves you with a lump in the throat. The author has a beautiful mind, and it makes you cry that you had no humanity in you to reflect on these truths in society. All you want to do is to get up and act - somehow, somewhere, in some way. Then, there is Dessicated Land - the author is a very clever writer, reflecting on fragility through the human body and human politics - the parallels of a child with osteogenesis imperfecta and a piece of land that is fragile because of conflict is simply fantastic - just, such superior and far sighted thinking and writing that very few are capable of. We then go to India, where we see two powerful stories: one, on Child Marriages, and the other, on Prostitution. What powerful writing is, is what these two stories are. The story bus then travels all the way to Sri Lanka and Colombia, talking about conflict and how it impacts family ties and bonds with those that aren't family. Finally, a full circle is traversed - for the protagonist in the first story makes an appearance and lets you heave a sigh of relief - but only just.
The book is a heavy read. You can't hope to finish it in the same way as many breathe life into their reading in pursuit of new age writing - and that is what makes this book a fully worthwhile read. That is what makes this a good book. There are too many books that speak of college love and workplace romance. With this messy melee of young Indian writing, Kirthi Jayakumar's book reminds you that India still has literary talent, and that the generation did not stop with Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth.
It is a very touching reminder that there is still scope for good quality literature that can be saved on the shelf for good and beyond. This one book has reinstated faith within me in a generation that is sadly losing sight of giants like Margaret Atwood and Kafka - but this book takes on both writers very easily and stands as tall. When I saw the reviews on Goodreads for this book, I was taken in by the prescription that this book deserves to be mandatory reading for the world's leaders. I agree with that review - and if I had it in my capacity or power, I would nominate this book for a Pulitzer.
Starting at the top, the book has a beautiful feel. It is a wonderful gift from a new publishing house, for most new age publishers compromise on quality and look for quantity. Readomania is in no rush for numbers ' they allow their books to do the talking, and allow their authors to explain the quality and justify a reader's passion for their work. The Dove's Lament is more than your average book, and the bankability of something like this literary tome will ensure that Readomania will go down in history as the publisher who gave the post-modern literary classist (the author, Kirthi Jayakumar) a voice. The choice of the quality of paper is excellent. The cover has a good matte effect with prominence for the motif, and the title written with shades of a photograph from a war zone is a very interesting effect to achieve. It is the kind of book that you want to be seen reading, and it is the kind of book that any intellectual will be happy to be seen reading ' as the writing proves.
Coming to the writing, the smart mix of fact and fiction make you see things in correct perspective. Each story is set in a conflict. So you have Rwanda's Genocide, Srebrenica's Genocide, Colombia's Drug cartel, Terrorism, Prostitution, Child Marriage, Kashmir, Israel and Palestine and also an issue I only recently learned about ' Bachcha Baazi. The author's understanding of the concept of 'Conflict' is really great ' because each story reflects:
(a) Personal conflict over what to do, or not to do, or choose or not to choose
(b) Social conflict where there is an issue of some kind in society, such as a custom or a tradition
(c) Full-fledged political or territorial conflict that spills into life
And she has achieved it with so much grace ' because, to study these conflicts without letting one overshadow the other through her stories makes you realise how many things in life people have to, and do handle. So when you see a mother giving her son a lump of bread, or a mother looking at her dead child and wondering why she never let her go to school, or a little brother saving food to send his brother out for protection, a young girl discovering her cousin's existence and trying to protect him, or even two complete strangers who fight all kinds of conflicts that tear two countries apart just to protect each other ' it shakes you from within. You realise, then, how petty your little fights with your milkman or grocer are. You realise that a hungry mouth needs food and does not care where it comes from. You discover that you have a side in you that cares, and simply needs to be tapped into to make a change. The book is overwhelming and it is the very reason why you should read it. Instead of digressing into the regular tale of how someone went to study engineering and wound up with a life partner and a lot of trouble, or even all those books that simply throw sex for good measure to sell, this book will make you think and grow in your intellect.
This book has received praise ' bestseller lists, touted to be Pulitzer-worthy and even worthy of mandated reading for nations in the UN. I will go a step further. This book deserves a Pulitzer, and the author will be a Nobel Laureate one day. Guarantee.
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There are some books that make you pause and think.Read more
I had eagerly picked up The Dove’s Lament, reading it and hoped to review it before I went for my holiday to Leh and beyond.Read more