Monday, 23 September 2019

Book review of Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup

I finished reading this book a few weeks back but struggled to articulate a review. How do you define a book which is so poetic in itself? I was in dire need of words that would explain this book perfectly well. But, perfection is a myth. No? Every word that I put across felt uncertain and unjustifiable to the beauty this book brings with itself. This is one to challenge your imagination, stretch it out and satisfy you with a prose beatific, to say the least.

We go about exploring this book, reading stories through the geographical topography of islands, faultlines, valley and no mans land(snow desert) which is the area between India and Pakistan.In four parts, the stories are like novellas with some characters making an appearance in the next. The book comes full circle as the last story feels like an amalgamation of the first which was the most impressive part for me and the one I loved the most.

The mystical aspect of the book is enhanced by the lyrical writing. Complementing it are the wonderful characters. It was a task of ultimate effort and joy to visualise the scenarios through a character’s eyes and mind. The reading journey almost feels like a time travel; one instant you are in Andaman Islands attending to wandering ghosts and speaking tree's gradually moving to Karakorams exploring the Buddhist territory in colonial times. At various other instances the hunger to know more about the characters faded them to a blur and how I wished I could read more about their lives and about them.

Majestic, imaginative and layered, strewn with idyllic words which give company to the picturesque topographical locations is Latitudes of Longing for you. It is an example of what admirable craftsmanship looks like. The writing does take its time to seep through and one must be patient in that phase of uncovering the literary prowess the book has to offer. Once uncovered, it flows like a creative saga.

I withheld my review of the book because I was unsure if it was the most opportune moment to write about it with the new JCB titles doing the rounds. This was a gem of a book from last year's list and one that was and is most loved by readers across. Such books are rare and reading them provides us with an opportunity to experience something beautiful and potent. However, I made my peace with- there is no wrong day to talk about an incredible book and it’s reading journey. Highly recommended.

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