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How I Became a Tree Hardcover – 8 Feb 2017
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This charming, sweet, sensitive book captures trees in all their omnipresent beauty and takes the reader into their lives that are lived in front of our very eyes, yet silently, mysteriously and numinously. Did Roy finally turn into a tree? To know, read this book. - Financial Express
How I Became a Tree is well -researched and quite readable, sensitises the reader to the close relationship between man and nature and suggests ways to nurture it…It mixes a number of genres-memoir, literary history, nature studies, spiritual philosophy and botanical studies and makes the reader sit up and think. - Indian Express
Sumana Roy’s first book takes you an incredible meditative journey. This is Indian literature’s stag party to the forest of thought. You are invited, if you can brave the thickness of thought. - Firstpost
Sumana Roy’s How I Became a Tree is a book that feels like equal parts of music, literature, botany and many such ‘parts’ that we take for granted. It is an ode to all that is neglected. - The Wire
About the Author
Sumana Roy writes from Siliguri, a small town in sub-Himalayan Bengal.
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Sumana Roy writes, “Writing is a solitary act and demands painstaking apprenticeship”. With the sort of research done for this book, which is her first one, she has beyond doubt, proved her commitment to writing. Her effort is evident in the discussions about depiction of plant life in literature and movies. Some of her seemingly innocent observations are original and brilliant. She writes, “For the shadows of trees obliterate specificity, the colour of the bark, leaves, flowers and fruits. Just like the shadows of humans do not reflect race, caste or religion” and this is a valuable statement in the present era. “Inequality seemed to be necessary to keep marriages happy or at least stable” cannot be passed off as a silly thoughtless remark . She observes, “reciprocity is the need that soured many human relationships”, and we cannot expect this from a love relationship with plants. Looking back, I feel I never gave enough importance to Botany as a subject compared to Zoology while in college. Somehow as Sumana points out, animal world or all that moves is the centre of attention than the ‘so-called-static’ plant world. I agree that this book inadvertently glorifies plant life. But this exaltation of plant life is an absolute necessity in this era of extreme violence inflicted on plants by human beings . There is no harm in romanticising the idea of a superior and ideal plant life so that more people come forward to do something about it. Being passionate about plant life is comparable to being passionate about pets or ones own children and should become the norm rather than being portrayed as a deviant behaviour.
I read a review in The Hindu where the author says that Sumana Roy embraces the ‘imaginary tree’ rather than the real one. I have my own reservations about such comments. For somebody to passionately write about a subject, it is not mandatory that they should be practising it in a way insisted by the majority. For a person to write passionately about dance or music, there is absolutely no need to dance or sing. This book without doubt, is noteworthy for its unconventional style and language and some authentic observations which would definitely alter the way you think. And Sumana has evolved into a tree. She just doesn’t write any more for anybody else. For a tree it never matters whether you are an academician, critic or a plant lover; it embraces everyone who comes to its shade.
It is a book of a different kind. A must-read recommendation for every book lover who has at one point felt a connection with Nature but couldn't really express it. It feels as if the author is speaking on behalf of the Plant World.