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Jasmine Days Hardcover – 30 Jun 2018
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About the Author
Benyamin’s Goat Days won him the Kerala Sahitya Academy Award in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
Shahnaz Habib has written for the New Yorker and the Guardian and her fiction and essays have been published in the Caravan, Afar and other magazines and collected in anthologies.
From the Publisher
Jasmine Days by Benyamin (Juggernaut Books)
The Story of Radio Jockey Sameera Whose Life Changes When Revolution Strikes
Young Radio Jockey Sameera Parvin from Pakistan immigrates to an unnamed city in the Middle East where she tells the story of the Arab Spring of 2011 in Benyamin’s new novel. Sameera thrives in her job and is the darling of her family, but her happy world starts to fall apart when revolution occurs in the country. As the people's agitation gathers strength, she is forced to choose between family and friends, loyalty and love, life and death.
Jasmine Days was first published in Malayalam in 2014 as Mullappoo Niramulla Pakalukal and then translated into English by Shahnaz Habib.
Benyamin was born 1971 in Nhettur, Kerala. He moved to Bahrain in 1992. Until the age of twenty-one, he knew nothing of literature: “Cricket was my world, better living standards were my aim.” When he reached The Gulf, he felt a loneliness that triggered reading and eventually led to writing: “I began with letters to friends. They accepted my words.” Today he is an author of over twenty books. Aadujeevitham or Goat Days is his most successful novel and has won him the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award. He returned from the Middle East to his native state of Kerala in 2013, two years after the Arab revolution ended. A former electrical engineer and now a full-time writer, he lives alone and cooks for himself daily: “I feel, and my friends certify, that I have a talent in it too."
Shahnaz Habib teaches writing at The New School and Bay Path University and consults for the United Nations. Born and raised in Kerala, she now lives in New York. When she had just started working on Jasmine Days in Kerala, it attracted much attention. “What is it like to translate Benyamin?” she was often asked. “As a first-time translator, I found this auspicious and intimidating in equal measure,” was her response.
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- Old BookWorm (Jasmine Days)
After reading the book halfway, I googled about the Jasmine Revolution and I got to know it started with the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, Libya and Morocco. In Jasmine Days, the protagonist RJ Sameera Parveen an immigrant for Pakistan tell us this had arrived in some city in Middle East too.. In the beginning Sameera tells about her life as RJ, her hardships and her love for her job. Then suddenly, all of them come face to face to a Revolution in a country that is not their own. The book highlights the differences between the Sunnis and Shias, it tells about the downgrade of rule of Saddam Hussain.. The revolution takes place to bring down the then Unnamed Ruler “His Majesty” and make the country democratic! It describes so well of the events of gunshots, the ruthless beatings, people dying and the whole atmosphere filled with fear and terror !
Sameera being the lover of music finds out about a small band from his colleague Ali and goes with him.. in all the chaos she finds some solace in the music.. I just loved the way Sameera always took her stand come what may even in the naivest of situations, she was confident ! Also I like how every character has a story from their tradition to add to the narrative !
The story revolves around a Pakistani girl Sameera Parvin who comes to an unnamed Middle Eastern city to work & live with her father who has been working there for many years. She lived at her eldest uncle’s house with other relative who helped her father as well as other relatives get jobs & settle down. The uncle was a high ranking police official & got her father a job at the police only. He also got her a job as a radio jockey. Things were going smoothly in her life & she got quite good at her job but things started to crumble as the city got engulfed in revolution. She finds herself at a crossroad as she is forced to support the monarch as an immigrant worker but in her heart she supports the protesters. As she experiences loss & violence, she is shook to the core. Get this book to follow Sameera’s heartfelt journey to realization of sorrows of the other side,
I had heard good things about Goat Days & I was quite excited to read this book, the blurb intrigued me & I am glad that I picked this book up. I always desperately look for books which will move me to the core & this book indeed did that, the desperateness for justice & the helplessness against the oppression will hit you hard in the heart. The journey of Sameera is inspiring, there are several subplots which will either make you smile or make you think about the lives of several people living in conflicted areas. The ending is abrupt but makes sense. The cover is beautiful, the title & language used is appropriate.
This novel surpassed my expectations and grew on me rather quickly with its unusual style of narrative and the subject matter it dealt with. Politics and religion are not themes that make for an easy read, but Jasmine Days has the power to keep you hooked to its pages. The apprehensions of being an outsider, the inevitable culture shock and the patriarchal notions concerning gender roles are all aspects of the plot seen through Sameera's perspective. The style of writing in this translated work is crisp and not flowery. Many disjointed events and instances are strung together to form the overall story. There are no chapters, only subheadings within broad sections.
In a way of recounting incidents that gave rise to the growing rivalry between communities, the novel draws your attention towards the Arab Spring. Themes of corruption, religious intolerance, women's rights and protest culture are explored in this novel. It also addresses the topic of media transparency during conflicts; how people in power become gatekeepers of news. There are a lot of characters in this novel, only a couple of which take precedence over the others. Sameera has firm opinions about what's right or wrong, she enjoys music and has never really considered what her religious identity might mean on a larger scale. Jasmine Days brings out the jarring truth about revolts; how innocent people have to bear the brunt of the actions of a few. I CANNOT STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS BOOK ENOUGH. Highly recommend reading it!!