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Memories (Post 1): Books by Mehreen Ahmed

Mehreen Ahmed is one of the first authors I interviewed and I absolutely loved her books! I'll have to admit I haven't yet read her latest books but I hope to do so soon. Here's a look at the ones I reviewed.


Originally posted in 2015/16


Moirae:


Genre: Literary Fiction

Available at: Amazon

My Verdict: ★★★★★

Moirae has a fantasy land for its setting. But the inhabitants of the land and their living condition echo the plight of millions on our very own planet earth. These people are supposed to be under a democratic rule, but this idea itself is farcical. They are subject to tyranny and have little rights. The book with its unique narrative technique explores how these people are torn between their own land which maltreats them and a land of hope which does not accept them.


Having read one of Ahmed’s works previously, I was expecting the writing style to be quite astounding and it was. Stream of consciousness is one of my favorite styles of narration because it can truly express the numerous intricate thoughts and feelings going down in one’s mind. The author uses dreams and imageries to bring home to us the despicable nature of reality as faced by many people in this world. Stream of consciousness mingled with certain elements of magic realism makes Moirae an outstanding piece of literary fiction. Also, it is a curious blend of modernism and postmodernism. Needless to say it is not for everybody and readership might be restricted to the more serious admirers of literature. The purpose of this book is not solely to tell a story. What is more important here is the observation and study of human tendencies, their response to unjust autocracy and desire to gravitate to an idealized land of freedom. I would call Moirae one of the finest examples of modern day literature.



Jacaranda Blues:


Genre: Literary Fiction

Available at: Amazon

My Verdict: ★★★★★

Rhonda lives a joyless and mechanical life. Her family is dysfunctional and there is hardly any glimmer of positivity in the things around her. Yet, she tries to be optimistic. Will a lucky encounter with a former lover turn her life around?



Jacaranda Blues is one of those stories that remain with you for a long time. It borders on the stream of consciousness technique. In fact, Rhonda's life at the time when the story starts is much the same as Clarissa Dalloway's, as Rhonda herself points out! The Jacaranda tree emerges as a symbol of optimism that Rhonda tries to constantly cling to in her mirthless existence. Situated on a busy street, it is the symbol of hope and peace. The quote by Hardy that the book opens with is very apt when the story is concerned. The writing is brilliant. We see everything from Rhonda's perspective and it helps us realize the pain and drudgery involved in her daily dozen. We think with her and we think like her! Although the story follows Rhonda's different thoughts and explores her psychology, nothing is incomprehensible or overcomplicated. The unnecessary complexities of novels that deal with similar themes make them go beyond the ken of average readers. In many such books, I've failed to find a proper story and perhaps not having a story has become a trend in contemporary literature. This book, however, has struck a balance between having a story and delving in the depths of a character's thoughts. Using this kind of a narrative technique is very difficult and the author has used it to perfection! I'll definitely be watching out for other novels by this author and I'd recommend this book to people who appreciate good literary fiction.



The Blotted Line:


My Review: ( ★★★★★ )

Available at : Amazon

“The Blotted Line” is a collection of literary short stories and it is one of the best ones I’ve read. I have been fortunate enough to read some fantastic anthologies by Indie authors but I must say when it comes to profound understanding of feelings and portrayal of human conditions, Mehreen Ahmed’s writing has impressed me the most.


The stories are not excessively descriptive. They are stories where we slip into the shoes of the characters and discover their thoughts and emotions. The author doesn’t intrude and inject opinions to confuse the reader. The characters speak for themselves. It is this aspect of Ahmed’s writing that strikes me as brilliant. Only a great author allows space for the reader’s imagination by refraining from clogging the narrative with too many details or explanations.

While each story encompasses the lives of different individuals, they converge at a certain point to express the oneness of feeling. Loss and tragedy is common to many of us mortals irrespective of our individual situation. These stories bring home the truth about humans not limited within barriers. We have faults, we err, we struggle through dismal moments and chase happiness. “The Blotted Line” doesn’t just tell the stories of fictional figures, it tells our stories.

There are some crucial elements which determine the quality of short stories, one of them being the ability to conclude without letting out too much information. This keeps the reader ruminating for hours after completing the story. “The Blotted Line” will force you to think and rethink. It will affect you and my experience tells me not a lot of books can achieve that!

© 2020 by Saradia Chatterjee