Saturday, December 28, 2013

#BookReview : Terms and Conditions Apply by Divya Prakash Dubey

On the jacket:

There are books that feel like a book while reading, and then there is Terms and Conditions Apply. The simple and lively stories compel you to take a look back at your own life, and remember when you put these incidences at the back of your mind. Its not just a collection of stories and a true incident, but also a reflection of what every one of us has seen sometime or the other, in our lives. The characters come alive, time and again as people we may have met, or as a persona of our own self.  Not too many works in recent years have managed to capture the nuances of ordinary, daily lives as effortlessly and fluently as Terms and Conditions Apply has done. A wonderful assortment of 13 short stories and a true incident, Whether it is highs and lows of a relationship, chaos and bedlam of school life, petty or harmless office gossips, or the buzz of a salon; all stories are strongly steeped in reality and yet they take a superb flight of fancy in the hands of a master craftsman. Rich in imagination, broad in its scope and elegant in its style, Terms and Conditions Apply is arguably one of the best debut works in recent Hindi literature.


It's been a while I had read anything in Hindi, and definitely not something written by a new author. So, when this book arrived, I was kind of eager to read it. 

My views about this book are quite strong, I realized. Both the good and the bad. What I found good and absolutely loved is the author's style of writing. We, us who form urban India, mostly interact in either English or our mother tongues, despite being proficient in Hindi. Hindi is a more earthy language, it touches the raw emotions better. This is what i experienced while reading this book. Dubey has a very simple and rustic style of writing, every line he has written seems to be directly out of someone's personal diary. I am highly impressed with his style of spinning the stories.

What didn't work for me personally, is the usage of English words. I am guessing the idea was for more readers to connect with the writing, as most people talk in Hindi, with their sentences pepper with English but while reading, it kind of hampered the reading experience for me. I don't like having to read Hindi words when I am reading a book in English. This is a personal pet peeve, but it did hamper my reading experience.

Terms and Conditions Apply is an anthology of thirteen beautifully crafted short stories. I have always maintained that I personally love reading short stories and they are the most difficult to write. Dubey has done justice to all of them. 

The topics are varied. While one story is about modern day couples, the second is a very realistic story about students & teachers in governemnt schools. One story is about domestic violence while another is about a local hero. A good read, over all.

Rating: ***.5/5

[The book was received as part of the Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.]

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