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A Home for Urvashi: A Novel Paperback – 29 Oct 2017
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About the Author
An electrical engineer from Jadavpur University, Sanchali Bhattacharya is a director in her own engineering and manufacturing company. Sanchali's short stories have featured in The Statesman. She is married and has a son. She lives in Kolkata.
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The book deftly deals with the everyday problems faced by a young working mother who has to maintain a balance between her professional career and family while struggling to find time for herself and her emotions. Throughout the book the author has subtly referred to Ujjala,'s beauty, both physical and inner. It is the inner beauty which gives the title of the book, A Home for Urvashi.
Issues concerning woman, starting from being abandoned at birth, exploitation as a child and in the workplace, her emitional and physical needs have been dealt with an expertise which can be expected only from a woman author who herself has gone through the experiences of life.
The metaphysical has been dealt with in a refreshing manner, subtle humour with philosophy of life after death. The life of two sisters, one in this world and one in the life after have been intertwined in such a manner that keeps suspense and interest of the reader focussed throughout.
The book also creates brilliant imagery of Calcutta and it seems that the author has done some research to supplement her own experiences of the city.
The author has dealt with an entire gamut of issues with expertise of a seasoned author, keeping the reader captivated with the style of her story telling.
Looking forward with eagerness to reading her next book.
Early 20th century saw surrealistic movement in arts and literature that perhaps developed into the concept of magical realism. Both have some commonality but have distinction in their own content. Although a clear definition is a matter of debate but I anchor my understanding that I like most. Surrealistic content connects physical world and a dreamy world. Dreamy world is completely imaginary, irrational, illogical but equally important for the storyline. On the other hand, the domain of magical realism is only physical reality but described by the trigger of magical event. A Home for Urvashi uses a mixture of realism and fantastic elements, but I find it cannot be classified under the above two categories. Unlike that of magical realism it rather fixes its domain on fantastic spirit world of Dulari. Is it “realistic magicim”?
Very superlative story-telling and an excellent description of spirit world, University etc. are the uniqueness of this book. I admire her imagination! For a large number of readers who have not seen Mumbai and Kolkata, the city description is added attraction, although I felt it drifted away the story in some places. I thought the novel would have added “begun bhaja”( fried brinjal) while narrating Bengali food. The large part of earthly story of Ujjala relating to office etc is generally familiar to the reader. So we miss the subjective attraction. For example, had it been a story of adopted child of a “Baul” ( Bengali sufi singer) or a crematorium clerk, people would have enjoyed a lot to know the life of "less researched". Finally, I like the dialogues between dulari and beral. At times those are very philosophical. They perhaps reflect alter ego of our complex mind.