Who, Me? by Tina Sharma Tiwari

Date Published: April 2015
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 262
Source: Review Copy provided by Random House India
Format: Paperback

Goodreads SynopsisIs love only about how you look? Will a makeover change Tara’s life? Can it change anybody’s life? When plain Jane Tara is dumped by her fiancé at the altar for a stunning rich heiress, it shakes her confidence. However, she’s not ready to give up. She will do whatever it takes to win her Arun back. Even if it means undergoing a complete makeover!

The school reunion is her big chance. So when Tara turns up there, completely transformed glamorous and sexy-she gets more than her fair share of attention, especially from Arun. It seems her plan is working. But soon the unexpected begins to happen and Tara finds herself in a dangerous situation. She stumbles upon secrets she’d never known. Life shows her how unpredictable it is!

Buy it here – Amazon India | Flipkart | Add on Goodreads

My View: If you read my blog diligently, you know my strange habit of being wary of Indian authors for the most part. I do like some of them like Jhumpa Lahiri and I did like Mohsin Hamid (read previous review). But most of them I don’t get along with in terms of the writing.

Since I had the pleasure of going to the book launch of this one, I decided to give it a go. Also, the fact that the author is a journalist helped me take that brave decision. So was my decision right? Let’s see.

I didn’t like the cover at the first glance, it was only when I held the book in my hand was I able to appreciate that dual dressing bit and realised it was very clever and tastefully done. Well done, Pia Hazarika. I wonder why her name sounds familiar. Will look that up later.

Going past the cover, as is the norm, it took me some time to settle in with the writing. Over time, I didn’t find it difficult to traverse my way through. There were absolutely no typos, no grammatical errors as was expected of a journalist cum writer and I am glad for that.

The book is set in chick lit genre and I believe I knew that when I started reading it. Over my reading though, the book seemed to have transcended its genre from chick lit to thriller. I am not sure how I felt about it though.

The things that I liked about the book includes its being error-free and some very comical situations that had me smiling if not laughing out loud. Well done on that, you author, you!

Things that I would have liked to steer clear of – I understand chick lit does assume some innocence and stupid acts on the part of the protagonists but sometimes it got on my nerves (am I becoming a feminist by the day?). I know one shouldn’t compare books but I am reminded of Janet Evanovich series and how one tends to laugh a lot when reading her books but there are no hard feelings and no way-beyond-stupid acts. I think I had major issues with the book’s plot because I see women as strong and intelligent. Although I did see glimpses of those in another character, I somehow wanted the protagonist to have those too. I wanted to shake some sense into her. But, oh well, if I am feeling strongly for the characters, the author has done her job well, hasn’t she?

Another thing that irked me was the kind of mixing of genres, not that I mind it. But in this book, it seemed more of a forced entry than casual sneakiness. And somehow the reality was lost and the book became a hugely fictional, impossible account of a main character. That was when I realised I didn’t connect with the book any more.

Fantasies are all around us and we want to live in one. But for books termed any other genre than fantasy, I expect realistic situations and thus wasn’t too happy with the way the book advanced. The plot wasn’t for me, personally. The characters, however, were well etched and thought out. And the writing was smooth and flowing.

If you’re into chick-lit and love some thrill mixed with it, you would like this easy, breezy read. I finished reading it in two days, so that’s something.

2/5 stars – It was okay. 2stars

(All opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced.)

Huge thanks to Random House India for providing the review copy.

Advertisements

Book Launch: WHO, ME? BY TINA SHARMA TIWARI

Date: April 2, 2015
Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Monkey Bar, Vasant Kunj

I am unable to go to most book launches because either they are held in Mumbai or at obnoxiously early or late timings but this one was on the right day, at the right time, so I made it.

It wasn’t difficult to trace Monkey Bar at Vasant Kunj. I liked its ambience and the easy, casual mood. The service was good and the snacks delectable. The author, Tine Sharma Tiwari (senior journalist and anchor with Times Now) looked resplendent in a little black dress. She was soon joined by the ravishing Kanika Kapoor (playback singer, Baby Doll and Chittiyan Kalaiyan) and Rishi Raj, stylist.

rishi-raj-tina-sharma-kanika-kapoor_142831234750

And so began the chit chat and the book launch. Rishi Raj on his impression of the book said, “The book has a chick-lit cover and here’s where I would like to say that don’t judge the book by its cover. This story is about going beyond appearances and how important or not a superficial outward appearance is. One tends to assume who the other person is based on how he/she is dressed but that’s merely the tip of the iceberg, there’s more to them than that. It’s like you discover them page by page, as in the book.

The author, Tina Sharma pitched in here to say that the book is about self discovery and about women realizing that the only person they have to love is themselves.

On being asked how she relates to the book, playback singer, Kanika Kapoor said she did it in more ways than one- “I see my life in it, myself in it, every woman in it. It’s about the reality of life and what we go through. We have our inhibitions and fears. As a woman, you can’t be yourself. The day you start loving yourself, it will change your life, like it did for me. I look forward to reading the book.”

The book is about a physical makeover which leads to other discoveries by the protagonist about herself.

Rishi Raj went on to say “How you treat yourself is how the world treats you. I once did a makeover for a 50 year old clinically depressed client and it turned her life around.”

On being asked by Tina, how far will you go to change yourself for the person you love, Kanika replied that she would change herself and do everything for the person she loves. While Rishi Raj smartly quipped, “Let love do it for me instead of me doing it for love. I will do it for me and not because it will make someone else happy.”

Rishi Raj and Tina Sharma Tiwari then read from the book to give the audience a glimpse of what was in store for them.

tina-sharma-tiwari_142831234740

On being asked where she saw herself in the book, Tina replied, “The book is about friendship, the protagonist steps out from home for the first time, lives on her own while doing a job. She is tasting independence for the first time. I had a wonderful four year period where I was in a similar situation and I have written about it.”

On why she chose this title, Tina answered, “There is this point towards the end where comes a revelation for the protagonist and she realises someone she had always kept at length from herself had a crush on her and her reaction is “Who, Me?” and that’s where the title comes from.”

And with that the launch came to an end and I walked out with the book in my hand.


Buy it here- Amazon India | Flipkart | Add on Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

Is love only about how you look? Will a makeover change Tara’s life? Can it change anybody’s life? When plain Jane Tara is dumped by her fiancé at the altar for a stunning rich heiress, it shakes her confidence. However, she’s not ready to give up. She will do whatever it takes to win her Arun back. Even if it means undergoing a complete makeover!

The school reunion is her big chance. So when Tara turns up there, completely transformed glamorous and sexy-she gets more than her fair share of attention, especially from Arun. It seems her plan is working. But soon the unexpected begins to happen and Tara finds herself in a dangerous situation. She stumbles upon secrets she’d never known. Life shows her how unpredictable it is!

Book Launch: Happy Birthday & Other Stories

I hardly go to book launch events as they’re too late in the day for me to be there but when this invitation landed in my inbox, I decided to give it a chance. And that is how I came to be at the book launch of Happy Birthday! and other stories by Meghna Pant. The author has previously written and been appreciated for her book, One and a Half Wife.

The surprise of the day was (which I already knew because you know how thoroughly I research authors before going to an event) that it was Meghna Pant’s Birthday and it was so fitting as her book is named Happy Birthday.

The book was unveiled by author, actor, marketing and management guru, Suhel Seth who also went on to read one of the stories from the book, ‘The Gola Master’. His flawless and brilliant voiceover of the story lent itself to a mesmerizing listening experience. The story itself was stark, bare and real in its essence and made one ponder over it.

50% of the proceeds from the book will go to Safar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that helps slum children and trafficked girls lead financially stable lives and a video was shown to that effect. It was very touching indeed.

Add on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

Author Meghna Pant who is in the process of writing her third book, ‘Son of Gods’ talked about her writing process IMG_0202and how this short stories’ book almost flowed out of her spontaneously unlike her first one where she edited and re-edited. She said it was almost like asking a mother to choose her favorite child when she was asked about her favorite story from the book. Nevertheless, she said she really liked ‘Clip and Cane’ which is about a blind person. She further added it was difficult for her to write it, to get into the mindframe of a blind person and thus the story stands out for her. She also likes another story ‘Lemon and Chilli’ which got published earlier and spreads over a spectrum of emotions.

When asked about her writing process, she talked about her crazy imagination and how from one line or one character, she ends up building a novel around it.

When asked how much of her work is autobiographical, she answered with, ‘I hate navel gazing. I want to explore dimensions that I have not yet experienced. Most of the stories are from the perspective of old, retired gentlemen’. She went on to elaborate how she never even knew her grandfather but she is still able to anticipate their fears, and needs. She further added that via her stories she experiences something that may happen to her in the future.

Regarding how her stories come together in a single collection, she said that unlike being woven with a central theme, all her stories are disparate and each story is an individual master in that sense.

About her next work, she mentioned working on a sexual and adult theme which of course, gathered a lot of interest from the audience.

A self-proclaimed crazy writer, she talked about being possessed by writing. She talked about how she was a business writer and having a MBA in finance, she wasn’t supposed to be a writer but now writing has taken over her.

When asked the short story writers who influenced her, she mentioned Premchand whose ‘Kafan‘ she adored. She also mentioned liking Alice Munro, O’ Henry‘s story endings, Paul Theroux, Franz Kaffka, Michael Cunningham’s ‘White Angel’ which was beautifully written and Preeta Samarasan.

Praised and grilled for churning out a book a year, we can now expect more books from Meghna Pant as she says she is now unemployed since 2 weeks which means she’ll have more time to write. So buckle up your seat belts and wait for her next book after you’re done reading this one because I’m sure that’s coming right up. 😉

Happy Birthday & Other Stories

Happy Birthday! (Random House, India) is a beautifully written, compelling and emotionally intelligent collection of short stories by award-winning novelist Meghna Pant. These finely nuanced stories provide a rare glimpse into the complex and mysterious inner lives of human beings.

A dedicated friend undertakes one last labour of love for a childless woman. Nadia – married into money – finds herself facing uncomfortable truths about her comfortably numb marriage. A Mumbai slum-girl dreams of speaking words valuable enough to be translated into English. An American tourist seeking nirvana sets off a sudden chain of events when his bag is stolen, and destiny plays her hand. A retired civil servant of modest means struggles to support his snooty foreign-returned daughter.

Meghna Pant’s knife – sharp stories are compelling, emotionally intelligent and provide a rare glimpse into the strange workings of the human heart. They evade neat categorization and
are the perfect read for all curious spirits.

“These are stories with a large heart and a keen eye, deeply aware of the complex, sometimes uncomfortable realities of India, its many layers. Meghna Pant knows how to create characters that will surprise and move you.”
– Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

“Deft, merciless and expertly-tuned parables for the new Indian century.”
– Jeet Thayil

“Meghna Pant pierces one’s heart with the reality and depth of her stories, wrapping up her tales with unanticipated yet undeniable flourish. Exceptionally thought-provoking narratives that manage to be provocative and inspirational in the very same breath.”
– Ashwin Sanghi

“These intimate stories juxtapose a range and register of aerial and emotional perspectives, with craft, delicacy and an intensely human sensibility.”
– Namita Gokhale

About Meghna Pant

Meghna Pant is an author and financial journalist. One & A Half Wife—Meghna’s debut novel—was published in 2012 to critical and commercial acclaim. It went into multiple reprints, won the Muse India’s Young Writer Award, and was shortlisted for several other awards, including the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Meghna’s short stories have been published in over a dozen global literary magazines, including Avatar Review, Wasafari, Eclectica and QLRS. An economics graduate with an MBA in finance, Meghna has worked as a TV anchor for Times Now, NDTV Profit and Bloomberg-UTV. A nomad at heart, she has lived in Delhi, Singapore, Zurich, Dubai and New York City. She is currently based in Mumbai. Meghna will be donating fifty per cent of the proceeds from Happy Birthday! to Safar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that helps slum children and trafficked girls lead financially stable lives. Happy Birthday! is Meghna’s first published collection of short stories.

Find Meghna Pant – Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter