This year has been tough for everyone in the world. Each and every soul, be it human or any other living being is facing troubles. The pandemic has affected the world and its people in many ways. The lockdown months have devastated many lives. People have been experiencing frustration, anger, and anxiety.
A person of every age group has been falling prey to these conditions apart from the fear of getting infected by the virus. This mere fear has also drawn the relationships between people adrift and created a void. No community gatherings have shown people how to spend in precarious times.
Book Title: Essential Items: Stories from a Land in Lockdown
Author: Udayan Mukherjee
In the book, there are stories that talk loud, but at a sublime level about caste, economic class disparity, haves and have not’s, death and after death consequences, political scenarios and its effects. The stories range from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But, what stands highlight is that every story has an undercurrent emotion along with a moral that which if, gets inducted into one’s mind, a person will be ready to fight any kind of unusual happening in the world.
There is humor, sadness, reality checks, and darkness in the stories. The cover image of the book in black and white shows the good and the bad, happy, and the sad, etc., analogies that reflect in one’s life. The author has also touched the subjects like poverty, abuse, discrimination, and arrogance. Every story also warns the reader of the need for preparedness when a mishap of any type happens.
What to expect from the book?
This book is a collection of ten short tales. The title of the book – Essential Items And Other Tales from a Land in Lockdown clearly states that the stories are inspired by ten vastly different walks of life and their experiences in India, all tied together by the common theme called lockdown.
A reader, while reading the ten short stories in this book, seems like taking a long walk through an Indian city, especially during the lockdown. Every lane passed, every corner, every building, every high-rise, and every slum area has a story in the book. Here, the author seems to have taken that kind of walk himself while penning these stories.
With vivid descriptions and realistic storytelling skills, he manages to get into the shoes of various demographic only to paint a picture from a day in their lives that has changed so drastically in this pandemic. The best part is he also takes the readers’ holding their hands along with him making them taste a surreal experience.
Who can read?
The ten stories in the book are written in a very comfortable language that can be read by readers of any age group. There are no elements in the stories which seem to be unsuitable to old people or children. Every reader who has been aware of the problems related to the current pandemic situation can read the book.
My take on the characters
The book has ten short stories, and every story has a central character and supporting characters. The story though runs around the central character, one of the supporting characters either brings a twist or becomes an important lap in the story. For example, in the story – Holidays, towards the end of the story, the old woman, Ajji, brings a new light to Achala’s mind. Here, Ajji’s character is introduced just before the story ends.
This kind of portrayal has given a new direction to the book. Every character, including the main and others, are given sufficient strength, scope, and attitude.
How good is the author’s writing style?
With good and accessible language, the author Udayan has presented his readers with nice stories that are very relatable to the present situations. The author has touched on various subjects and taboos. It is very unlikely that a book with short stories though belongs to different themes and falls under different categories, also happens to be a strict eye-opener.
How entertaining is the book?
The stories in the book are written keeping in mind the current COVID situation, the lockdown, and the problems faced by the common public since the lockdown was set. Each of the ten stories explains the real-life situations that every walk of life has faced and is still facing. With a great uncertainty of how to deal with the pandemic, there are many lives that are shattered, and the author has captured the exact situation very vividly and presented in the stories.
With an accessible language and understandable vocabulary, the book is written that suits the reader of any age who understands what the world is now going through. And yes, definitely the book is quite entertaining in terms of the storytelling.
Touching, Thought-provoking & Intriguing realistic tales.
(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)