Interview with Author Ranjani Rao

  1. Your memoir “of divorce and discovery” will be out soon. Could you tell us more about the book?

Rewriting My Happily Ever After is a true story of a three-year period of my life. At that time, I had walked out of my marriage of sixteen years. Despite being brought up in Mumbai, having an advanced degree and having returned after spending fourteen years in the US, I had always lived in either my parent’s or husband’s house. Moving out was a major decision which required me to learn, unlearn and relearn many things while I figured out my new life as a single parent. My book covers my journey to independence.

2. What prompted you to write this memoir?

I wrote this memoir for three reasons

  1. To stop hiding my pain
  2. To seek closure
  3. To help other women who may find themselves at the same crossroads as me.

Going ahead with the decision to divorce is not a trivial one for women who live in a culture that looks down upon a ‘broken family’. Even women who are financially self-sufficient or have family support prefer to live in a unhappy but familiar state instead of finding a happy life outside of the known boundaries of their life. I wanted to share my thinking process and the coping strategies I used to figure out my new life.

3. How long did it take for you to write this book? Could you tell us more about your journey?

I procrastinated for over ten years but began writing earnestly in Jan 2021. I wrote for 50 minutes every morning before my workday began. It required commitment, discipline, and some suffering to bring the book to life. Some days it was difficult to relive those painful memories of the past but the greater goal of connecting with readers made me keep going.

4. This is your fourth book. How has the experience of writing it been when compared to your first three books?

My earlier books were compilations of short stories (Negative Space) and essays (No Longer NRI and Train Friends). Those were easier to put together because they were written as standalone pieces around a theme.

This memoir is my first major book-length creation and took much more concentrated effort. I wrote the chapters as independent pieces and then moved them around to make the narrative cohesive. It required three drafts, a handful of beta readers and a professional edit to bring it to its final stage.

5. How did you gear up to write this memoir?

To be honest, I needed a lot of convincing to sit down and write this book. I intuitively knew that there was a need for such a story to be out there because divorce is a topic that Indians/South Asians tend to brush under the carpet. Still, I was reluctant to subject myself to the pain of reliving a difficult part of my past. But having a decade-long gap between the events described and the writing made it bearable. I am glad I wrote it because the writing was cathartic and also gave me closure.

6. What advice do you have for someone who would like to write their memoir?

I would recommend that you read a lot of memoirs to get a good understanding of the literary form. While there are formulas and standard approaches, you should be clear about the story you want to tell and how you want to do it because after all, memory is subjective and evolving. Just like a fiction writer chooses what to put in and what to leave out, a memoir writer also creates a narrative with very specific and intentional choices about the story and the storytelling, even though the events are unchangeable.

7. How has your background as a scientist helped you in your writing process?

This is an interesting question. As I mention on my website, I observe life carefully, look for signs and trends, verify it with my own understanding and then propose a solution, a suggestion, or an insight. Personal essays come easily to me because of my background because it involves a deep exploration of certain ideas and themes. And although I enjoy fiction, it does not come as naturally to me.

8. Whose memoirs would you recommend to writers?

I have read memoirs by Americans like Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love), Dani Shapiro, Melissa Gouty – I would recommend all of them. Recently I have become very interested in memoirs by Indian writers like Kalpana Mohan, Ashwini Devare and Rohini Rajagopal. I interviewed these three authors on my blog and the discussion was fascinating. I intend to continue the author interview series for Indian memoir writers.

9. Who are your favourite authors and what genres do you like?

My current favorite fiction writers are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Marjan Kamali. I also read a lot of non-fiction – current read is How to raise a feminist son by Sonora Jha and of course, I’m always on the lookout for memoirs J

10. Do you have lessons to share from your writing journey?

Writing is a means of creative expression. But like all art, it requires patience, practice, and discipline to hone the craft and to go deeper. The learning happens in the doing and gives tremendous personal satisfaction. Being able to share it with others is the other side of the coin which is wonderful but is not the motivation to continue with your work of writing. It helps to keep this in mind.

If you want to write, do it for the right reasons.

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Interview with Author Rishi Vohra

  1. What’s your latest book, ‘Diary of an Angry Young Man’ about?

Hello Aishwariya. Diary of an Angry Young Man is inspired by true events and the protagonist is based on a real person. The book is set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, the latter around the time of the Nirbhaya incident, which had moved the nation to anger. Among these angry people is one ordinary angry young man whose anger and actions bring him under the radar of both the police and the beggar mafia. In addition, he has unemployment and a volatile home environment to contend with. Through his journey, we see how a disturbed childhood can lead to an unfocused and unstable adulthood. And how hope and clarity can come from the most unexpected of people and places. The genre of the book is Coming-of-Age/Crime/Drama.

2. What prompted you to write ‘Diary of an Angry Young Man’?

When I was a kid, there was one particular young man in the area close to where I lived, who had become a figure of childhood folklore of sorts and we knew him only by his nickname. He had achieved a high level of recognition, given the issues he stood up for and the scraps he got embroiled in. He seemed destined to go nowhere in life.

I visited the area years later as an adult, and was surprised to learn about how life had completely turned around for him and his current vocation. His unique journey revealed him to be an unreasonable and fearless man, and I admired his resilience and goodness of heart despite the cards that life had dealt him. I felt compelled to tell the surreal story of this angry young man.

3. When did you start working on this novel? How long did it take for you to finish writing it?

I started writing this novel in 2013, right after the Nirbhaya incident had shaken the country to its core. It started off as a short story and I finished it in a month or so. Yet, it felt incomplete as there was much more to this man’s journey and a short story wasn’t doing justice to it. I rewrote it as a full-length novel and kept working on it off and on and over the years to its final draft in 2021. So, to answer your question Aishwariya, it was written over eight years but the first full-length manuscript took around six months.

4. Could you tell us about your writing journey and the books you’ve written?

I started writing my first novel when I was pursuing my MBA in Sustainability at San Francisco State University. In my free time, I sat down to pen a screenplay (since I was a recent Bollywood export) but wrote a book instead. I had no intention or even knowledge of publishing but thoroughly enjoyed the process. A friend read my draft and encouraged me to publish it. The book was Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai and was awarded a special mention at the Hollywood Book Festival and longlisted for the 2013 Crossword Book Awards, which encouraged me to write further. Two novels followed – HiFi in Bollywood and I am M-M-Mumbai. Diary of an Angry Young Man is my fourth novel.

In addition, my short story, The Mysterious Couple, was featured in Sudha Murty’s anthology – Something Happened on the Way to Heaven and another short story, Kaala Baba, in Neil D’Silva’s urban horror anthology – City of Screams. My other short stories include The Saas-Bahu Conflict which was published in the HBB Horror Microfiction Anthology and In Your Eyes in Tell me Your Story’s LGBTQ anthology Pride, Not Prejudice : Decriminalising Love.

5.Your earlier books were Mumbai-centric. How have they been received?

Even though the books were Mumbai-centric, they were well-received my readers all over. The books are set in Mumbai because that’s the place where the stories come from, since I grew up there, but the emotions and conflicts in the books are universal. I try to make Mumbai a character my books so that the setting doesn’t seem alien to readers who don’t know much about the city.

6. Do you have lessons to share from your own writing journey?

Writing is a very solitary and challenging journey that can alienate one from the things and people that matter. One has to learn to switch off and on from one’s book.

Also, it helps to keep making notes and have some clarity before commencing the writing journey rather than putting pen to paper and seeing where it goes. The stories somehow come out better.

7. You’ve written short stories and novels. What different techniques do you apply for both?

Both are enjoyable experiences and require courage before I commit myself to writing them. But for short stories, I need to have full clarity on every part of the story and character as the length is short and any new addition while writing could throw me off course. With novels, there is room to move things around, bring in new characters, twists etc. as I have enough length to do justice to them. So, with novels, I have more freedom to be spontaneous with some aspects as long as the beginning, end and certain essential elements are in place.

8. What do you think are the qualities essential for a good writer?

Passion, diligence, patience and discipline. Above all, reading helps make one a better writer.

9. Could you name some of your favorite books?

I have favorite authors rather than favorite books. My genre of choice is crime fiction and my favorite authors are mostly from Europe who write crime fiction series in their own languages which are translated into English. I can’t think of any book that I have read more than once.

10. Which books on writing would you recommend to aspiring writers?

For fiction, Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk. Of course, there are many more. For aspiring writers, the best way to develop your writing style and instincts is by reading EVERYTHING, with a focus on the genre in which you want to write in.

Four Books I Read Recently

  • The Comfort Book by Matt Haig – This book is like a warm hug. The author shares with readers a list of his favourite movies, recipes and books in addition to his musings on life. In short, he writes about all the things that bring him comfort in the hope that they could help the reader, too. Matt Haig has always been open about his mental health struggles and I’ve loved his other books like The Midnight Library and Reasons to Stay Alive. What I loved about this book is that unlike some other books that discuss mental health, this one is least likely to be triggering for the reader.
  • The Full Platter by Abha Iyengar- I loved this collection of flash fiction by Abha Iyengar. Each story is different and with 40-odd stories, the reading experience is pleasant and enjoyable.
  • The Secret Life of Debbie G by Vibha Batra and Kalyani Ganapathy – This graphic novel is a coming-of-age tale about a sixteen-year-old girl named Soundarya, who likes to be called Arya. In the book, we enter Soundarya’s world and discover that her mother is a divorcee, who is looking to remarry and has a suitor in mind. How Soundarya deals with this new development, considering she might soon have a half-brother and half-sister forms the crux of the book. Add to it teenage drama involving becoming the talk of her school due to social media and how it changes the relationships in her life and you have a rather spicy graphic novel for the modern reader. It addresses issues such as fat-shaming, sexuality, gender, outing, bullying etc and is suitable for the internet generation.
  • Arrivederci by Amrita Valan – I read this collection of fifty poems by Amrita Valan. There is no underlying theme to the book. It is a collection of her fifty best poems. Some of the poems are rather long. I liked the last poem in the book titled ‘The Last Poem’ the best. I also liked ‘Life Lessons of a Poet’.  Her poems deal with themes of love, longing, loss and death.

10 classics with less than 200 pages

Some readers get put off by tomes. Some people have lost the habit of reading books and are looking to get back to it. For the benefit of these readers, I’ve compiled a list of 10 books having less than 200 pages each. Happy reading.

  1. The picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde – 165 pages

This is Oscar Wilde’s only novel. Wilde combines elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction. It is a portrayal of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young man in late 19th-century England. The premise of the book is that as Dorian Gray lives a life of crime and decadence, his body retains its youth while his portrait reflects his debauchery

2. The wind in the willows-Kenneth Grahame- 172 pages

Four friends – the mole, the rat, the badger and the toad – go on a series of adventures. They explore the mysteries of life in the Wild Wood. They end up in a car crash, in jail, and a battle with weasels. A tale of wanderlust, this book will appeal to several generations

3. The painter of signs – R.K. Narayan- 183 pages

The painter of signs is the story of Raman, who paints signboards in Malgudi, R.K. Narayan’s fictional town. Daisy is an attractive young woman who engages Raman to paint signs advocating two-child families. This bittersweet tale of love in India reveals as much about the country as it does about its lead pair

4. The thirty-nine steps – John Buchan – 133 pages

This is the first and arguably the best of John Buchan’s Richard Hannay thrillers. Scudder, who is being chased by deadly traitors, seeks refuge at Hannay’s residence. He is soon found dead with a dagger driven through his heart. Accused of his murder, Hannay flees his home and takes on the culprits after being cleared by law

5. Bonjour Tristesse- Francoise Sagan – 113 pages

Cecile leads a hedonistic life with her father and his young mistress. When she is on holiday in the south of France, she takes a lover. However, when her father decides to remarry, a tragedy takes place

A picture of the 10 classics mentioned in the blog post

6. The prince and the pauper – Mark Twain – 190 pages

Two boys – one an urchin from London and another, a prince from a palace unwittingly trade identities. The urchin finds a life of riches while the prince is reduced to a life of rags

7. A streetcar named desire – Tennessee Williams – 142 pages

It is one of the most renowned plays of our time, winning a Pulitzer prize. Blanche Du Bois, a southern beauty meets a tragic end brought on by her insensitive brother-in-law, Stanley Kowlaski. The movie of the same name starred Marlon Brando as Kowlaski and Vivien Leigh as Blanche

8. Of mice and men – John Steinbeck- 121 pages

This novella is about two drifters – George and simple-minded Lennie. They start working on a ranch and George must keep his friend out of trouble. It is a powerful tale of friendship.

9. A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf- 117 pages

This essay by Virginia Woolf was first published in 1929. The author develops the idea of what would have happened to Shakespeare’s sister, arguing for the value of independence for any creative writer.

10. The outsider – Albert Camus- 111 pages

Mersault is a non-conformist. When his mother dies, he refuses to show any emotion. He commits a random act of violence and again lacks remorse, which compounds his guilt in the eyes of the law and society. This portrayal of a man confronting the absurdity of human life is an existentialist classic.

Hemingway’s way to good writing

Ernest Hemingway is so popular in literature that there is a writing/editing app named after him: The Hemingway app. The renowned writer’s most famous work is arguably ‘The Old man and the sea,’ for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

I started re-reading Hemingway’s ‘A moveable feast’ last week. It is a memoir of his life in Paris in the 1920s although written during the last years of his life. He writes about his encounters with literary stars like Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and others. “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway to a friend in 1950.

In this blog post, I have compiled the following four tips from his observations on writing in ‘The Moveable Feast’:

Tip 1- Stop writing when you know what’s going to happen next.

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next. That way, I could be sure of going on the next day. (Page 7)

I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. (Page 16)

Tip 2: Write one true sentence. Cut the ornament out and start with the first true simple declarative sentence.

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So finally, I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut the scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written. Up in that room, I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline. “ ( Page 7)

Tip 3- Don’t think about writing when you are not writing. Put your subconscious mind to work.

“It was in that room that I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time, I would be listening to other people and noticing everything.” (Page 7)

Tip 4- Use similes to bring your writing to life.  

Hemingway’s descriptions of women are rich and beautiful. ” She was very pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with rain- freshened skin, and her hair was black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally across her cheek,” he says of a girl in a café. ( Page 3)

Ernest Hemingway had a minimalist style of writing, and he believed in writing short sentences. Writers and editors would do well to read his work and glean lessons from his writing style.

Composition of a Woman

I read ‘Composition of a woman’ by Christine E Ray, a book of poems about womanhood and its attendant issues. ‘Composition of a woman’ is her debut collection of poetry that won the Reader’s Favourite Bronze Medal in Poetry in 2019.

Christine has covered topics such as fibromyalgia, depression, menopause, love, heartbreak, middle age, sexuality and vulnerability in her poems. She has laid bare her emotions on these pages unreservedly. Although dealing with complex emotions and topics, the book flows easily and will most likely have you returning to it to check out how a turn of phrase sits on the page or how something was described. The poet writes with candour and without a trace of self-consciousness or self-indulgence.

Cover of ‘Composition of a Woman’

The collection is in free verse, but some of the work is prose-poetry.

In one of her poems, she wonders how “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice”. She notes that some of them are mean girls!

Her ‘On becoming a poet’ encapsulates what it is to be a poet –

“Sometimes, adopting the names ‘writer’ and ‘poet’ led her to encounters with the most amazing minds connecting her with a larger community

At other times she thought that ‘writer’ and poet’ were the loneliest names she had ever called herself waking up every morning

To unzip her chest, her gut

And bare her truths to the world

Because like others of her kind

She was complex, messy containing

Multiple truths, not a singular one…”

Her sense of humour sparkles through some of the poems. Some of her poems are named after books by famous authors such as The Bluest Eyes, Bad Feminist, We should all be feminists, The bell jar etc.  She draws from the canon of great feminist literature and weaves magic on the pages of this tribute to womanhood. Read it! It’s available on Kindle Unlimited for free.

Hard Times

How does one cope with hard times? – It is a question that most people are contemplating amid the pandemic, but the answers seem elusive for most. Listening to music, writing poetry, reading, walking, exercise, playing with pets, chatting with good friends, writing, gardening, or simply zoning out can be therapeutic. But this pandemic has gone on for more than 1.5 years and everyone is looking for it to end. The end of the tunnel seems far away.

How long can hobbies carry us forward? When the pandemic began last year, I enrolled in so many courses, listened to so many webinars and read so many books that it led to eye issues and my personal computer and phone crashed!

Everyone wanted 2020 to end because they somehow believed 2021 would be different – ‘the promise of a new day’ to quote Paula Abdul . But 2021 turned out worse for most people with COVID-19 taking lives and people scrambling for oxygen cylinders. Now, things are better with vaccination, but we are not out of the woods yet.

Pic credit: Unsplash

Last year, I wrote entries in an app called Presently to record my gratitude and remain positive. This year, I’m taking care not to burden myself with too many tasks that lead to burnout. Saying no is an important part of staying alive and sane.

It’s common to get psychosomatic illnesses when one is stressed. A migraine, neck pain, body pain – these can wreak havoc on your wellness quotient. Almost everyone I know has experienced this. If you are feeling this way, I see you and hear you. Take care and get well soon.

I plan to get back to reading once my eye issues are better. These are the books on my TBR:

  1. Composition of a woman by Christine E Ray
  2. The Kitty Party Murder by Kiran Manral
  3. All Aboard by Kiran Manral
  4. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
  5. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
  6. The Beach Read by Emily Henry

And several others.

Which books have you been reading?

My 2021 Reading List – Part 1

I’d read 55 books last year, so this year I set myself a low target of 12 books since I was experiencing eye issues. However, it is July, and I’ve already read 32 books. Here is a list. I have hyperlinked some of these books to reviews I’ve written of them.  I’ve also hyperlinked my interviews with the authors of a few of these books. How many of them have you read? Do let me know in the comments.

  1. The midnight library – Matt Haig
  2. The introvert’s edge to networking  – Matthew Pollard
  3. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  4. To be or not to be a writer – Sweetycat Press
  5. Strangely familiar tales– Vijayalakshmi Harish
  6. The anatomy of scars– Arjun Raj Gaind
  7. Hate that cat – Sharon Creech
  8. Isolocation – Various poets
  9. Vignettes – A slice of life – Chandrika R Krishnan. Here’s my interview with the author.
  10. 23 letters of love – Suchita Agarwal
  11. Writing flash fiction- Carly Berg
  12. Moonletters- Dr. Saumya Goyal
  13. Women Mutiny- Various authors
  14. The adventures of the JP family- Radhika Acharya. Read my interview with her here.
  15. Three is a lonely number – Baisali Chandra Dutt
  16. Eating sugar, telling lies – Kuzhali Manickavel
  17. La Douler Exquise – Kavya U Janani
  18. Anthology of short stories- Volume 1- Edited by Jilly Snowdon and featuring my chick lit story ‘Snapshots of a single girl’s life’. It is available on Smashwords here.
  19. The cursed stone – Ushasi Sen Basu
  20. Raising Capable Children – Sakshi Varma
  21. Good Morning, Monster – Catherine Gildiner
  22. Who’s who of emerging writers 2020.
  23. The Lucy Temerlin Institute Guide to Starving Boys: Their Salient Features, How to Find Them, How to Care for Them after They Die, and Four Considerations … on Cryptodiversity and Decoherence – Kuzhali Manickavel
  24. ‘Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2021’ featuring my bio as well! The book is available here.
  25. Side Effects of Living – Edited by Jhilmil Breckenridge and Namrata Kathait
  26. Jaya – Devdutt Pattanaik
  27. Death is my beloved – Laudeep Singh
  28. Chasing Sunsets – Vaibhav Dange
  29. Kintsugi – My flash fiction story ‘Mended and Precious’ is included in this anthology available on amazon! Do read it and let me know what you think.
  30. Tickled Pink – Five of my poems are featured here as a result of winning a competition and my content was declared “the best content”.
  31. Misters Kuru – Trisha Das
  32. Teachings of Bhagavad Gita– Richa Tilokani

The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita by Richa Tilokani

With the pandemic raging worldwide, everyone is returning to their roots to find solace and seek comfort. Richa Tilokani’s ‘The teachings of Bhagavad Gita’  – Timeless wisdom for the modern age- comes at the right time to offer wisdom to those who seek it. I thank Richa for the review copy. This 226-page book, which promises to contain the essence of the Bhagavad Gita, should invite readers who are daunted by the perceived complexity of the original text.

Richa in the preface says “I was taught the Bhagavat Gita – which is a part of the epic Mahabharata written by the sage Vyasa- by my grandfather Pandit Vishnukant Shastri who was a revered scholar and a true devotee of Lord Rama.”

Distilling the essence of 700 verses, which are considered to contain Brahm Gyan or supreme knowledge, is no mean feat and Richa has attempted to simplify the text and adapt it to modern times.

Book Cover

Richa has laid out the book in 18 chapters, starting with an introduction or Vishad Yoga, moving on to an introductory summary of the Gita or Sankhya Yoga, and then covering the art of work or Karma Yoga, the transcendental knowledge or gyan karma sansaya yoga and other aspects until the eighteenth chapter, The art of renunciation or Moksha Sanyasa Yoga.

“The Bhagavad Gita says that Arjuna is full of sorrow, at a time when he should have been fighting the war. He represents the common man who is full of unhappiness, dilemmas and worries at most times. Arjuna faces many difficult questions on the battlefield and these are similar to the problems people face on the battlefield called life,” says Richa.

The book has nuggets like “With knowledge and devotion, one can become free from the illusions of the world.”

The real cause of sorrow according to Lord Krishna is ignorance, and only true wisdom can give one freedom from it. I recommend this book to the spiritually inclined, who want to glean knowledge, gain wisdom and rise above their sorrows.

To read Richa’s interview about her writing journey, favourite books and more,  check out my earlier post. You can buy The Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita on Amazon.

My book reviews of ‘Chasing Sunsets’ by Vaibhav Dange and ‘Death is my only beloved’ by Laudeep Singh

I read ‘Chasing Sunsets: Poems and prose’ by Vaibhav Dange as a part of the HBB Book Review Programme. It is the author’s third book of poems, but the first one that I sampled. After reading ‘Chasing Sunsets’, I’m eager to read the poet’s other two books of poetry: ‘Letters from a stranger’ and ‘A walk on a burning bridge.’

The poet has dedicated ‘Chasing Sunsets’ “to every person who is torn apart in love and is grateful for it.” In the acknowledgements section, he has thanked the people who stayed and also the people who left.  The book cover is designed by Dhriti Chakraborty.

Book Cover of Chasing Sunsets

The poems are divided into four sections or “chapters” as the poet calls them: Cyclic emotions, Denial, Breaking Point and Acceptance. The poems are written in free verse.

‘Chasing Sunsets’ has poems on depression, grief, fear, love, loss, inertia and even one poem on the pandemic.  One of the poems mentions wormholes and the space-time continuum. Another poem carries “a message from the moon.”

The poems are deeply emotional and reflect sensitivity. They cover a range of emotions and these poems would appeal to anyone who has ever been in love and felt its joy and pain. I recommend this book to all lovers of poetry and to introverts and highly sensitive people. 

Better editing would have led to a more pleasurable reading experience.

I recently read ‘Death is my only beloved’ by Laudeep Singh as a part of the HBB book review programme. The book has been published by Invincible Publishers. It is dedicated to “everyone who has a heart that bleeds and eyes that weep.” The cover design and the beautiful illustrations in the book are by the poet’s sister Shruti Singh.

The poet ends his acknowledgements section with “ I want to thank all my former girlfriends for stabbing me in the heart.” There is also a preface and a section where he quotes famous poets.

Book Cover of ‘Death is my only beloved’

The opening poem “Conked out” is almost macabre, with the poet comparing broken dreams to underfed malnourished babies. A few poems later, there is “Purgatory,” which is more like the poet’s musings on the demise of a loved one. Some of the poems seem like ramblings. The poet also touches upon smoking and drinking in one of his poems, outlining his dependence on them. The poet also comes up with some strange musings “ If I ever tie the knot and if I ever have children, I want them to abhor me for two reasons. First, because hate is purer than love. Second, because if my children happen to love me, then they will never be able to live their own lives as they will always mourn thinking about all that their father had been through in his life, long after I perish from Earth’. The poet, in another poem, talks about teachers who picked on him in school. The poems are in free verse.

I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. The illustrations and cover art are, however, fantastic. Have you read either of these books?

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