The latest offering from Sushma Joshi is a collection of short stories that, if nothing else, will bring your reading habit back.
My relationship with books has been severly disconnected of late. I haven’t been able to read for pleasure like I used to. There was a time when I looked forward to returning home to resume a book, even trying to figure out what twist the plot would take on my way back. The authors of such books quite simply spin a magical loom and create a whole new world for the reader to get lost in, and that’s what The Prediction by Sushma Joshi does.
Joshi’s latest offering rekindled my (dormant) desire to pick up a book. The Prediction is a collection of short stories that glitters when describing the old Nepal, a bygone era that many of us still wonder about. The title story is based on real characters in Nepal’s history and standing out absolutely is little King Gyanendra’s narration, giving a glimpse into his infantile mind and how it began to detest democracy forever. It’s ingenious, to put it simply. The rest of the plot is filled with subtle nuances and colorful characters who share an array of emotions.
The presence of strong characters continues in stories such as The Hunger. Although it seemed like there were a million family members in the plot, I could still recall each of them, along with their backstories, every time they popped up. The fact that most of the tales are based on real events, or on parental hearsay, makes it is easier to connect to them. There are also bits of humour peppered throughout the book; The Discovery Of High Lama being laced with it. A tale based on true events that Joshi had heard of, it chronicles the life of a young man who went from playing in a band in the pubs of Thamel to an esteemed position in a religious society. The story is told from the point of view of his friend. While the abbot-to-be is the central character, it was the narrator I ended up wanting to know more about. It was character building done just right.
There are lots of moments when the book grips you, making it difficult to put down. For me, A Boleria For Love defined the character of the book with the way it ended. Its conclusion has the potential to leave people either smiling or entirely despondent, which is the hallmark of a good book. A book that doesn’t make you feel is a book that has lost its purpose.
The Prediction’s strongest points are the descriptions of vintage Nepal in stories such as The Promise, as well as the characters that come to life and take you with them. At times the secondary characters are so vivid that they take the focus away from the main characters, although it happens rarely. The Prediction is a great way to get back to reading but in my refusal to glorify or sell the book short, I’ll simply label it a “good” read.