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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Uncommon Memories of Zeenat Qureishi by Veena Nagpal

Title: The Uncommon Memories of Zeenat Qureishi 
Authors: Veena Nagpal

Category: Suspense/Drama
Publisher: Tara Press
Date: 2014
Price: Rs. 254 
Pages: 478

Snapshot :
The book essentially depicts the religious volatility in the  modern times with pinches of historic massacres through the eyes of a tormented young and impetuous protagonist. The dark ethos of the religious fundamentalism and its impact is dealt with optimum sensibility and excellent narration.

Review :
It has been a very common style lately to weave an imaginary plot against any real-life incident. Not only it catalyze the connection with the readers but also it comes with an exponentially accelerated enthusiasm. Not only in literary works – have even the movies adopted it successfully. And, in Indian and also the subcontinent context – the issue of religion has always been a taboo. Many a time including some spectacular masterpieces like Khuda Ke Liye explored the religious state of the region. Even the stalwarts like Meera Nair also could not put off her from The Reluctant Fundamentalist being filmed. And, with all such overweighing baggage of expectation and footprints of masters – Veena Nagpal comes up with her work of fiction – The Uncommon Memories Of Zeenat Quereishi – with a plot that clearly falls in the genre.

Religious turbulence has always been a major issue in the socio-political arena of the world. And, Islam has always been a subject of discussion influencing the turbulence. Though a highly debatable issue, the western countries many a time has shown intolerance towards the “fundamentalists” which affected directly a section of people believing in Islam and supports progressiveness. And, the situation always gets bitter. The author here in a very sensible manner portrayed the events of inhuman turbulence. The tormented protagonist experiences a life of dangerous religious clashes. And, with all these high voltage Hindu-Muslim turmoil – she falls for a neighboring Hindu guy!

When an author projects a story in the backdrop of any social theme – it is very important to weave the events and juxtapose them against the plot. The author here weaved the events in a very well-knitted style. Never had it seemed out of context. And, the timeline of events, though spreaded across, was never lousy. Unlike the major mistake that Pankaj Kapur made in his ambitious Mausum, where he also explored many events – against the story without any involvements of the hero / heroine– the author here knitted the plot across the background and made it more responsive to the readers. The author here also used creative liberty in many a place to commensurate with the plot.

There is a very thin line between sensationalization and sensitization. Though she was dealing with such a subject – she never went ahead or behind the point. She kept it touchy. She made it to feel. With simple words. Effective narration. And, interesting plot. but, she never went above the mark to affect sensibility. Though in many places, the shortening of sub-plots may have helped it to become a page-turner – it never bores though.

The author kept a balancing act intact. The religious fundamentalism was exposed. Be it of any religion. In the genre highly explored and tried – tested – Veena Nagpal though gave nothing very mint-fresh – opened a way for a thought-provoking intelligent read. It is a read that stays with you for long. You can almost feel the protagonist. Her emotion moves you. Her pain hurts you. Her wilderness scares you. Her projection of past life experiences scares you. And, “Her Uncommon Memories” glue you. To the pages of the book!

Rating :

3.5 / 5

About The Author: 
A graduate of Lucknow University, Veena Nagpal majored in English literature. She has written two previous novels, Karmayogi (Jaico) and Compulsion (Sterling). She has also
written four children’s books, Time Travellers, Smuggler’s Isle, Tenderella and the FoFs and Garbie Garbyhog – The Worm That Wanted To Fly. Her short stories and articles on diverse topics have been published in leading Indian magazines. She lives with her family in Delhi and devotes most of her time to writing on environmental issues.

This book is reviewed by Sankha Ghosh: 
Sankha Ghosh was never born in that 'City of Joy', never dreamt of being a banker, never watched a Godard, never loved Kafka, never fell for that Solitary Reaper, never danced on a friend’s wedding, never fought for human rights, never had a crush at college and never ever aspired to work on a novel! Never was he as simple as this! #He wishes 

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