Author: Rajeev Nanda

Publisher: Frog Books

ISBN: 978-93-81115-12-1

You can characterize Rajeev Nanda's Conversations as a miscellany of powerful short stories and poems, however, it is much more. It is rather a mixed bag of moods, reflections and slices of life exquisitely captured. The author in his introduction states that the stories and poems in the book have resulted from his years of observing people around him and then mulling over various challenges and dilemmas we navigate in life. And as I bit into these stories and digested them, I noticed each did convey profound messages with endings that tended to have an amazing unfolding forcing me to examine and analyze my own thoughts and feelings.

It only had to take one or two of these essays that was sufficient to allure me to Nanda's artistry and storytelling craftsmanship as he grapples with some major issues that disturb and affect all of us including facing demons within ourselves, the futility of war, mediocrity, dissatisfaction with our working and personal lives, love as differentiated from infatuation or romance, unethical behavior exhibited by our leaders, living our lives according to what others demand of us, duplicity, insincerity, hypocrisy, avoiding the truth, failure to honestly communicate with our loved ones, being too harsh on others and quick to judge, burdens children keep wrapped up in themselves, friendship and many more that I am sure most of us have pondered.

Each of these short stories contain characters and settings organized in just a few observed details and endings that generally provide a sense of closure despite the conciseness of form. In addition, readers are drawn into the characters' minds with the use of first person narratives. There are few weak or disposable entries and readers are free to jump around at will as there is no continuance between one story and the next.

Noteworthy is that Nanda permits his characters populating these essays full latitude to express their ideas and philosophies and then cleverly leaves the reader to work out the message. For example, in the Truth Club six college students, who have known each other for two years, agree to meet up in their college stadium and each will have the opportunity to talk about one of their six friends. As agreed, “anyone of them can pick anyone to talk about. However, the listener, or the person being talked about, cannot say anything-no explanations, no justifications, no nothing. Others can join in and add their comments, but they cannot defend the person being talked about.” Will the truth hurt or will it be a cleansing of the soul? What good will come of these encounters and can the reader learn something from these young students? In another essay, Soldier, GD, the narrator denounces the futility of war and the counterproductive nature of violence and cries out, “I refuse to kill or get killed. Let the politicians who declare war come down and fight it.” Some strong words, but nonetheless they ring with a great deal of truth. With Four Eulogies the subject of infidelity and adultery are broached and what makes this story most intriguing is that the invitation to the adulterer's funeral simply said: “You are invited to an evening of truth. To loosen the tongue, drinks will be served on the house.” What could we expect when the four individuals delivering eulogies consisted of the deceased's wife, his daughter, son and mistress? This should be enough to whet your appetite for to find out what each had to say about the deceased.

I guess I agree with Nanda who in the introduction states that he considers the book to be a success if it makes you think, reflect and develop new perspectives. It certainly accomplished this feat and very well worth the read.

Follow Here To Read Norm`s Interview With Rajeev Nanda

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