Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: The Other Side Of The Table by Madhumita Mukherjee

On the jacket:

Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words. 
A bond punctuated by absence and distance...
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.
Between Abhi, who is training to be a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who is just stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkata. 
As they ink their emotions onto paper, their lives get chronicled in this subtly nuanced conversation through letters ... letters about dreams, desires, heartbreaks, and longings... about a proverbial good life falling apart, about a failed marriage, a visceral loss, and about a dream that threatens social expectations...
Letters that talk. And don't. Letters about this and that. Letters about everything...
Letters with a story you would never expect.


I really don't know where to begin talking about The Other Side Of The Table. I have already recommended it to people and somewhere deep within, I want more people to read this. I want my mother to read this book, I know she will connect to it. I placed an order for this upon seeing the reviews on goodreads by other readers. And I was not disappointed at all. 

Nowadays, only once in a while does there come a book which makes you stop reading, go back a few pages, and read a certain page again. The Other Side Of The Table is one such book. The book is a collection of letters between Abhi and Uma over the period of 1990-99. Abhi is training to become a neurosurgeon in London and Uma, joins medical college in Kolkata, when the book begins. They used to be neighbours when Abhi was in India, and despite a decade of difference in their ages, they were very close friends.

The friendship Abhi and Uma share is remarkable. It left an ache in my heart which I cannot quite put to words. Not a sad ache, a retrospective ache. Over the period of almost a decade when they are writing to each other, Abhi and Uma live each other lives through these notes; cry for, laugh with, worry about make fun of, be supportive of each other. Somewhere in between, even they didn't realise, these letters became their life supports. Emotions and human behaviour have been depicted in such subtle yet exemplary manner, one would be surprised it is the author's first book.

There were a couple of times in the duration of reading this book, when I had to stop to cry. Or want to hurry and finish just to know what happens next. I'd got that involved with the two.

One thing that stuck me was that the author was brought up in Delhi and now lives in England. But if you are a Bengali, you will understand what I mean when I say - the way she wrote about Uma's life and surroundings, it felt like she herself was sitting in an old south Kolkata house, with green windows and red floors, and writing the book.

Oh! And the absolute blonde moment that I faced. I spent a few minutes wondering why Abhi and Uma are talking about Grey's Anatomy back in 1990. Silly me, the only Grey's Anatomy I know of, is the tele-series and not the book which medical students refer to!

If you have loved Gurney's Love Letters, or our own adaptation of the same, Tumhari Amrita, you will love The Other Side Of The Table as well. The similarity stops at the point that the themes are same, but Mukherjee has given her debut book a very intriguing finish.  

Rating: ****/5

[This was a personal read.]


  1. Books are the main source of knowledge. There are many categories available for books. You can buy the books online using books india.

  2. I am buying immediately. Damn ! I never read about it to notice that its about letters !! I have loved every single book that had letters / emails ..

    thank you for this beautiful review :)

  3. Thanks :-)
    Let me know if you liked it!

  4. I think I'll now go and buy the book.
    good read!


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