Shuggie Bain: Douglas Stewart

‘Shuggie Bain’ is a sad and touching mother-son story that is also about alcoholism and sexuality. Agnes Bain is a doomed woman – pretty, but ruined by men and drink. Her favorite child, Shuggie, loves her dearly and hopes, despite all signals to the contrary, that one day she will give up drinking. His being ‘different’ adds to his misery as he is bullied and harassed constantly. The book has a tragic ending. The shifting viewpoints – Agnes and Shuggie – work. The author succeeds in keeping the readers interested and engaged. Glasgow’s deserted coal mines, its unemployed miners, and their sorry lives are quite vivid and in-your-face. Was it the best book of 2020 and deserved the Booker? I am not sure. But it’s a book that draws you in.


Whereabouts: Jhumpa Lahiri

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahriri book review - The Washington Post

Jhumpa Lahiri comes back after a gap of ten years. It was a much-awaited book indeed. But it doesn’t work. It’s not really a novel – I think it’s unfair to the readers to call it one – it’s a collection of random vignettes. There is no story arc, no development of characters, no climax – no story really. The writing is there though. When I read Jhumpa Lahiri, it’s like she is speaking to me, that we are on the exact same wavelength. It’s poignant, subtle, and yet deeply-felt. But next time around, Ms. Lahiri, it will be great to have a story too.

Read, if you are a fan.

Mindset: Carol. S. Dweck

‘Mindset’ expounds on the concept of how a growth-oriented mindset helps you excel in life as opposed to a ‘fixed’ mindset that believes in people being inherently smart or dumb. It is a concept that rings true and is easy to embrace. So, as the objective of the book goes, it succeeds in conveying its message successfully. The only flaw, and that applies to a number of books in the genre, is that the message gets repeated endlessly and becomes a bit monotonous.