Tag Archives: undertow

Undertow by Jahnavi Barua: My thoughts

Today I am sharing my thoughts on UNDERTOW, by Jahnavi Barua, a new and stunning story of family, love and Assam.

Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua
Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua

(This blog post may contain affiliate links. That means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. It does NOT COST you EXTRA)

synopsis

Loya is twenty-five: solitary, sincere, with restless stirrings in her heart. In an uncharacteristic move, she sets off on an unexpected journey, away from her mother, Rukmini, and her home in Bengaluru, to distant, misty Assam. She comes looking for her beloved Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, but also seeks someone else-her grandfather, Torun Ram Goswami, someone she has never met before.

She arrives at the Yellow House on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where Torun lives, not knowing that her life is about to change. Twenty-five years ago, Rukmini had been cast out of the family home by her mother, the formidable and charismatic Usha, while Torun watched silently. Loya now seeks answers, both from him and from the place that her mother once called home. In her quest, she finds an understanding not only of herself and her life but also of the precarious bonds that tie people together.

A delicate, poignant portrait of family and all that it contains, Undertow becomes, in the hands of this gifted writer, an exploration of much more: home and the outside world, the insider and the outsider, and the ever-evolving nature of love itself. 

Check out the reading vlog I made for this amazing book!

my review

Set in Guwahati, Undertow has been a gem of a book and I was in love from the very first page. It was our first ever Book Of The Month for our very new venture – Assam Book Club.

Reading this book during this time in history (as I am self-isolating during the Covid crisis) is probably the reason why this book hit me as it did. I saw my beautiful state, or rather, my beautiful city from the eyes of Loya, who is visiting here for the first time. I was travel-sick in a way and at the same time, home-sick, and I wanted to roam about the city as I did once upon a time.

Undertow was also included in the longlist for the JCB Prize in Literature and it felt so good to be represented. In mainstream Indian literature, which is also mostly of Central India, we Northeasterners hardly figure except as token characters. So this was a refreshing and welcome change. I felt represented, my culture and my way of life felt represented. This representation of Assam, taking into consideration the time period it is set in, was actually very apt and I myself could remember various scenarios I faced as I grew up (particularly the political aspects).

Check out my list of THE BOOKS TO READ from North East India!

Check out these pictures where I dressed up as a typical Assamese bride. This was special because my Mom lent me her own bridal clothes for this photoshoot.

I also made a spread for this book where I took for my inspiration the vibrant blue of the cover. And here is when we spend a few moments to admire the symbolic cover (I’m a lit major after all). The girl felt solid and at at the same time, a lone figure amidst the blue swirling around her.

Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua - a Bujo Spread!
Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua – a Bujo Spread!

I also think that just like the beautiful cover, the writing too was full of stunning imagery. And it so was. I felt like I was a tourist here, but then again, the representation of Assamese life is so true and realistic.

The relationships among the people were also well portrayed, including all the various nuances and undertones of emotions. Anger, spite, love, sadness, guilt etc. were all shown via the actions of the characters. I think it was all so beautiful in its wholeness. The author also delves over the lines that can separate families, orthodox ones; over choices in one’s spouse, job etc. It was true in the case of Rukmini (spouse) as well as Loya (job).

Talking about the ending, which has understandably divided the readership into two, I have to admit that I am quite satisfied with it. It felt like the story has in some way come to a full circle. I would like to reiterate that I really do believe that ending was necessary and that it was justified.

Overall, I thought it was a gem of a book and you should definitely pick it up! 5/5 stars!

Check it out on:

Goodreads
Amazon
Pretty Little Bibliophile banner
you might also enjoy these

Popular Youtube Videos

  1. Books as Outfits: A Lookbook!
  2. Books for beginners
  3. Massive Flipkart Book Haul
  4. Autumn-themed bookshelf and reading nook
  5. Bookshelf Tour Pt. 1
  6. Quarantine Book Haul
  7. How to Read More Books

Indian Authors you need to read ASAP!

On the occasion of Independence Day, I am sharing a few literary fictions, non-fiction, poetry and other works by Indian authors that YOU NEED TO READ ASAP!

(This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at NO EXTRA COST to you)

(This blog posts also contain a few review copies that were sent to me by publishers. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP! 1
Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP!

According to Wikipedia, Indian English literature (IEL), also referred to as Indian Writing in English (IWE), is the body of work by writers in India who write in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous languages of India.

While I believe in the importance of reading works in your own mother tongue, I cannot overlook the vast and wonderful oeuvre of IEL that the children of the Motherland have birthed. So in today’s post on the momentous occasion of the 74th Indian Independence Day, I am going to share with you all 10 books by Indian authors, that are either recommendations based on my reading experiences or books that are in my immediate TBR piles!

Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP! 2
Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP!

BOOKS BY ASSAMESE AUTHORS!

I am an Assamese so can you blame me for including this whole category? Haha! But seriously, these are two books I have included in my immediate TBR and I am super stoked. Do share your thoughts if you have read these and I would love to share them on my Instagram!

UNDERTOW by Jahnavi Barua

Undertow by Jahnavi Barua

Set in Bengaluru and Guwahati, UNDERTOW is a heartwarming tale of how relationships can face a myriad of changes in the face of love, opposition, and societal norms.

Click here to BUY.

THE HOUSE WITH A THOUSAND STORIES by Aruni Kashyap

The House with a Thousand Stories, by Aruni Kashyap

Set in Mayong, THE HOUSE WITH A THOUSAND STORIES is a “bleeding and triumphant” tale surrounding a fateful wedding where secrets are unearthed, and bloody acts of violence almost lay a people to ruin.

Click here to BUY.

LITERARY FICTION

AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING by Anuradha Roy

An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy

A book that has remained a personal favourite ever since the first time I read it, AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING is a hauntingly beautiful story of love and real estate, in a house set on the verge of decay on the banks of a once-mighty river. Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

A quintessential reading when it comes to IEL, THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS is a household name today. If you still have not heard about it (and even if you have) it is time to pick up this book and maybe join me in a buddy-read if you can!

Click here to BUY.

FANTASY

PATH OF THE SWAN: THE MAITREYA CHRONICLES part 1 by Charu Singh
PATH OF THE SWAN: THE MAITREYA CHRONICLES 1 by Charu Singh

Two words: Buddhist Fantasy! I am super proud to say that PATH OF THE SWAN is a book by my professor and the copy I own is a personalized signed one! I am really looking forward to reading it and since I also have the sequel, I have no worries of being left high and dry on a cliffhanger!

Click here to BUY.

UPON A BURNING THRONE by Ashok K Banker
UPON A BURNING THRONE by Ashok K Banker

Another fantasy that is inspired by the epic Mahabharata, UPON A BURNING THRONE, takes a unique perspective on this classic tale we have all grown up with. Suffice it to say, it was an adult fantasy that I loved reading! Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

(Thanks to Simon&Schuster for proving me the review copy)

POETRY

CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal
CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS is a truly unique collection of poetry that I read and enjoyed a lot. I loved how quirky it was with an amazing rhyming and poetic skill by the poet. Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

(Thanks to the poet for providing me with a review copy)

SAFRAN by Aishwarya Nir
Safran by Aishwarya Nir

Another poetry collection which was a wonderful union of love as well as spiritual poetry. I am so proud that it is a personalized signed copy as well! Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

(Thanks to the poet for providing me with a review copy)

NON FICTION

CITY OF MY HEART by Rana Safvi
CITY OF MY HEART by Rana Safvi

CITY OF MY HEART was a beautiful translated work of Urdu narrative, which surrounds the famous Revolt of 1857, as well as the decay of the once-mighty Mughal Empire. It is a beautiful book and I loved the vivid imagery! It felt like I was in ‘Dilli’ and I couldn’t bear to leave! Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

(Thanks to Hachette for proving me the review copy)

SEX AND POWER by Rita Banerji
SEX AND POWER by Rita Banerji

SEX AND POWER is a definitive look at the powerful relation between sex and power (pun intended)! The author explores the idea of sexual morality, social perceptions of sex, and also modifies Nietzsche’s slave versus master morality theory! Another book on my TBR!

Click here to BUY.

And that’s it, my wonderful readers! I had a lot of fun compiling this list. I hope YOU have great fun (hah!) reading these books! Do share any books you think should have been included in this list! There is a huge gap and selecting only 10 books from across the breadth and length of India may not have been a just act by me. Nonetheless, as time goes on, you and I will enrich each other and keep on adding more books to our TBR piles!

If you want to see more such book-related content make sure to follow me on my Book Instagram page, and Youtube Channel!

Pretty Little Bibliophile banner
you might also enjoy these

Popular Youtube Videos

  1. Books for beginners
  2. Massive Flipkart Book Haul
  3. Autumn-themed bookshelf and reading nook
  4. Bookshelf Tour Pt. 1
  5. Quarantine Book Haul
  6. How to Read More Books