- Paperback: 249 pages
- Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd (19 April 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9352015843
- ISBN-13: 978-9352015849
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky Paperback – Import, 19 Apr 2016
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About the Author
Manan Kapoor was born in Shimla in 1993. He graduated from Panjab University in 2015. He discovered his love for reading, devouring the works of Orhan Pamuk, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rusdhie, Amitav Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri. He currently resides in Chandigarh.
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Top customer reviews
I was proven wrong.
Let not the fact that I was prepared for the worst take away from the credibility of the novel. Had I not been prepared for the worst, I would have enjoyed it all the same, but seeing that it came from a first time, twenty-two year old author just added to its charm.
Essentially, the novel is about a girl living in Kashmir, a war-torn province in India (The geography and technicalities of the status of Kashmir can be argued or corrected at a later stage). Novels about Kashmir have a tendency to become political and war novels because of the conflict in the region, however the author made sure Kashmir remained a setting for the novel, and didn't let it overshadow the plot or characters. The protagonist, Inayat, is just a normal eighteen year old girl (as normal as normal goes), and the novel explores her relationship with her family and friends, and the effect of the insurgency on her life. Again, the author has very cleverly refrained from politicising the novel, which worked in his favor, and neither does he pick sides in the war, nor get into any details.
However, the politics of Kashmir are the only details the author hasn't gotten into. The book is written in an extremely descriptive manner, describing everything from the color of Inayat's slippers to the entire layout of the house. It might be a bit too descriptive at times, launching into a film reel spinning in your head, but it's worth it. The description gives you room to immerse yourself in the story, in the Kashmiri environment, with the chinar leaves, and snow, and the slowly developing emotions of the characters.
The characters seemed a bit superfluous initially, and for the first few pages, I was worried they were going to stay the same. Inayat seems to have almost no character at all, Gul just seems like a somewhat feisty, but pleasant girl, and Aaqib, the quintessential football loving guy, whose only distinct quality I thought was his curly hair. But then the plot starts unraveling, and as you course through page after page, you start feeling at home with the characters. You're with them, secretly listening to The Doors' cassette in your parents' room, you're going on long walks to the ruin, you're there on Boulevard Road with the tourists, in the characters' own little world. The character development is a tad naive, but halfway through Part Two, the novel is in full bloom, and you're already best friends with Inayat and craving kehwa.
My favorite character was Maqbool, Inayat's alcoholic poet of a father. Maqbool is the perfect paradox for Kashmir - a Muslim who is not only a poet and publisher, but also a sceptic and an alcoholic. He is obviously frowned on by society, and begrudged by his wife and daughter. There's a loving yet exasperating relationship between him and his family, just like the relationship between him and Kashmir, and Islam. His relationship with Inayat and Wahida can also be a metaphor for the relationship between the Kashmiris and Kashmir - befuddled with hope and disappointment; loving, nurturing, yet overridden with nuances.
Hidden underneath the simple language and the occasional naivete that creeps in, the author has constructed a rather complex plot. The book is divided into three parts, each introduced by a poem (which I shall discuss a little later). Every part seems to have a certain theme, a certain climax, that it builds up to. To avoid giving spoilers, I won't get into the specific themes or situations, but by the time you read Part 2, you will be completely immersed in the novel. If you can just patiently make it through the first few pages (they can get a bit tedious, and you might have to trudge through them, but you shall be rewarded), you will sail through the rest of the novel, blinding turning pages through the night. I think the author, like the readers, found himself, too, getting more and more immersed as the story went by, and you can clearly see the style and intensity of the writing thickening and maturing as the story progresses. I don't know if that was intentional or simply the writer himself actually maturing, but it made for good storytelling.
The title of the book, 'The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky', suggests a bleak, morose story, and I'd be lying if I said it isn't a little depressing, but it is far from bleak and morose. Loss and moral dilemmas play a large role in the story, but the child-like innocence of the characters and the narration, the richness of Kashmir and the complexity of the plot keep it from turning into a Bela Tarr film. Also, 'Hope' (yes, there is a reason I write 'Hope' in that specific manner) is a prevalent theme and symbol in the novel, a very realistic theme when it comes to teenagers who haven't headed out in the real world and tried to find a job or home in the urban twenty-first century, yet.
I was, as you can see from the review so far, very pleasantly surprised by the book. I absolutely loved the poetry used at the start of each part (the poem written by the author himself, too, did reasonably well in comparison). Once you read each part, go back and read the poem assigned to each specific part, and you'll realise just how appropriate and beautiful those lines are. The author also beautifully captures the experience of loss, surprisingly mature for such a young writer, especially when his fellow writers are too busy writing about vampires and high school flings.
In summary, the novel made for an enjoyable, easy read. A tad naive, a touch slow in parts, riddled with description, but the beautiful motifs from Kashmir, the complexity of the plot, the development of the characters, the poetry, and the long pages with exploration of the darker human emotions just sold the book to me. (Also, references to The Doors and a certain sub-plot. How can one resist The Doors)
This book takes us to the time when ‘army’ and ‘militancy’ became the two contrasting pillars to distinguish one from the other in the region of Kashmir. While the book, by no means, provide a complete picture of issues faced by Kashmiri people during those days, the book skillfully portrays the daily struggles of the people of Kashmir under the relentless watch of both the army and the militants. The author neither takes the side of terrorists nor the army. He just strikingly builds up a picture of the lives of people who live there and leaves the judgment in the hands of the readers. The troubles faced by Kashmiri Pundits also features prominently in the book. And, most importantly, all of this has been told through the eyes of three young children. However, even more astounding than these characters is the setting of the novel. The author takes you to the beautiful landscape of Kashmir and gradually throws light on the burning issues of Kashmir. This is Manan Kapoor’s first book and I must say that he has done a brilliant job.
The story revolves around three Kashmiri children – Inayat, Gul and Aquib. They are having a happy childhood. They both enjoy and spend quality time with each other. They bunk classes to watch movies. Tuning snow into a snowman is one of their favourite winter activities. They love listening to the songs. However, as they gradually desert their childhood and enter into early years of their adult life, they realize bit by bit that the coming time is not what they had in their minds. They encounter misfortune as mourning inundates Kashmir. The continuous rumbling of the automatic rifles, the wails and cries of their close ones, and a quiet surrounding gradually envelop their lives. The Lamentations of a Somber Sky is the exploration of this conflict with life in the dark times in the region of Kashmir.
Story of Kashmir intrigues me and that’s why I chose to read this book. And, I am happy to tell you all that I really liked this book. The book under review won't just familiarize you with the Kashmiri Muslim and Kashmiri Pundit fraternity, but also gets you acquaint with the reasons of the battle of the Pundits in the region of Kashmir. It will certainly help you comprehend what happened in Kashmir, and on the off chance that you are a Kashmiri Pundit; it will help you comprehend your battle and your own identity.
It's a dark, emotional and deep intellectual art, written by the author Manan Kapoor. The instances happening in the book shakes a reader's soul and pushes a person to think. At instances, you just close the book and start thinking what's happening, metaphorically.
The poems written on the inception of each part, is quite interesting. The language used is simple and makes the novel easy to read. The story is gripping, and the plot made this novel a page turner.
The characterization of various individuals done in the book, is well drafted.
The book is an intriguing and interesting one, and surely a well crafted one, having no grammatical issues at all. (This being a problem for debut authors these days.)
Manan Kapoor, the author, has delivered a promising debut novel, in the form of "The Lamentations of a Sombre Sky" and we expect more of such stories from the author, in the coming future.
Read complete review on my blog- [...]
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