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From An-Other Land dives deep into the stories of NRI lives in the US, with immigration issues faced in modern-day US.
Once in a while, there comes a book which compels you to read and re-read it because there is so much more to it than what is visible on paper. From An-Other Land: Making home in the land of dreams by author Tanushree Ghosh is one such book which made me ponder, wonder, and surrender to peel its layers, and read between the lines.
The Amazon blurb says, From An-Other Land dives deep into immigration today for the diaspora and its many facets with characters who seek to define themselves in an intercultural setting that is less and less sure of itself. A reality check and a guide for anyone who wants to understand the modern-day US.
The theme of the book is all the more relevant in today’s times post the 2016 US elections.
Let me tell you of two personal, diametrically very opposite stories.
When my husband and I were in Australia on a long term IT project, he was keen to settle down there whereas I wanted to return to India. My kith and kin were quite surprised that I was blissfully letting go of an opportunity to live abroad. But, I always had only one thing to say – “Everything is great here but it does not feel like home.”
My elder brother is in the US with his family for many years now, and they have all obtained their American citizenship as well. Though we have never spoken about this subject openly, I am aware that they feel a sense of belonging there, and are pretty much content with their lives in the US.
Hence, I do understand and relate to the essence of this wonderful book which is a collection of short stories told from the point of view of varied characters.
Depth in the narrative
This book is not an easy read. It is not even a concept everyone will relate to on the face of it. But, according to me that is its strength.
The narrative will force you to take a deep dive into the hearts and minds of its characters and the situations they find themselves in. It took me a while to become a part of the world created by the author but once I was into it, I found myself digging out more than what met the eye.
It is quite evident that the author knows her characters and their stories, and therefore, has done complete justice to the way each tale has been told to the readers.
Varied stories that bring out the issues that go beyond the umbrella of immigration
When I first picked up this book, I had my doubts about how the author would keep the reader engaged on a topic like immigration. How differently can one interpret the struggles of immigrants?
My doubts were put to rest soon and I was just amazed at the wide-ranging stories in this book. The author has highlighted the pain, turmoil, struggles and apprehensions in diverse settings from multiple point of views. In fact, if one delves into the words and scratches the surface to look beneath, one would realize that these are the people all around us, if not within us. We know them and we face these issues in our day to day lives, albeit in a different kind of milieu.
After a point, for me, the book was no more a book on immigration. It became a book about the challenges faced by the human race in various walks of life.
Delightful Prose and Crisp Editing
What completely won my heart in the book is the delightful and eloquent prose. The author has created vivid imageries effectively with her words all through and I could clearly visualize the proceedings. Not even a single word seemed forced or out of place to me in the narrative and the author has managed to strike the right balance between her effortless vocabulary usage and the reader connect in the stories.
The editing is also sharp which helps to elevate the book a notch higher making it a fine, smooth read.
The only thing I felt could be better in the book is the placement of the chapters. There are some which come across as heavy and the others are comparatively a lighter read with sprinkles of humour. A balanced placement of these chapters could ensure that the narrative does not lean towards being dense or mundane at any instance, as some readers might look for breathers in between.
I would sum this review up by saying that From Another Land is in several ways a story of every land. Go for it!
P.S.: The author’s note in the book is by far one of the best I have ever read. It is heartfelt, insightful and intriguing. It piques the interest of the reader and perfectly sets the ball rolling for what is in store in the subsequent pages.
A version of this was first published here.
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Image source: a still from the film The Namesake & book cover from Amazon
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