ARC (NetGalley) Review: A Scarlet Letter Manga Classics Edition

Synopsis:

  • A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America.
  • Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

Product Details (Amazon):

  • Series: Manga Classics
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Udon Entertainment (March 31, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1927925339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1927925331
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Review:

The first thing that caught my eye about this ARC was that I had to read last page to first page! Yes you read that right. Manga follows the custom of being read from right to left, so what may appear to us as the last page in fact is the first page.

With that being said, the portrayal of the characters was convincing. Arthur Dimmesdale is shown characteristically with an air of melancholy about him and his speeches brimmed with pathos. Furthermore, Rev. Dimmesdale kept clutching his robes where it had closest proximity to his heart. This characterized him rightfully to show that something was amiss and troubling his heart.

Dr. Chillingworth on the other hand was shown with shrewd-narrow eyes and a snake aura. In Christian symbolism I believe snakes denote Satan himself. The manga artist’s choice of rendition seems to indicate that Chillingworth had succumbed to his darker side in his path of vengeance.

Hester Prynn is shown as a beautiful and determined woman. The scarlet letter or “A” that she wears owing to her adultery… soon symbolizes her “ableness” as a seamstress, and later on after she assists her fellow townsfolk the A transforms into “Angelic” as testified by Arthur Dimmesdale himself. Her decision to settle at the edge of town can possibly indicate that while she wants nothing to do with society, she doesn’t want to forsake it altogether as well.

Then there’s Pearl, with her wild nature, and elfish appearance. In the original Pearl had elements of magic  in her, which was an anti-thesis to the cold hard and rigid life that the puritans had come to lead.

As for the Puritan townsfolk, they appeared to be a bigoted group of reactionaries who treated sin like it was the last vestiges of bubonic plague. Their biggest failing was that they did not use the context to pass judgement but instead generalized their dealings with sinners. In Hester’s case, she had been married off to a scholar old enough to be her grandfather and someone who was said to have died at sea with no one reporting him to be alive for 2 years. If she fell in love with someone else during that time then that is not in itself a sin.

The manga’s version just like the original novel questions whether or not Hester was the true sinner or of it was Dr. Roger Chillingworth for failing to understand the circumstances that led to Hester’s folly and forgiving her, and if Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale was to blame for letting Hester Prynne take all of the blame and be a bulls eye for social stigma for several years.

Keeping all of this in mind, the manga takes a classic and turns it into a format which can be picked up and finished in a matter of hours (1 hr 15 mins in my case)  and it does this without losing the sophistication of the original. I hope to see more from the manga classics series in due time and process.

ASK FM

I found myself logging into ask fm today after what seems to have been a year. Here are some of the more interesting replies I may have given in response to questions by anonymous individuals.

Why do zombies attack?

To gain xp

You’re an interviewer. Your job is plain and simple(theoretically). All you have to do is pick 1 person from 3 “equally qualified” individuals to work for the firm. The first man is poor, the second was rich until only recently but now he is the unhappiest and the third is chronically ill.

Firstly this is a normative question. It is outside my professional capacity when I start thinking about how things “should be”.

If I employed the poor man, I would help someone who has worked hard to raise the value of his human capital when he could have spent his meager resources to subsist without any ambition. Someone who needs that one shot in life will work harder than anyone else to keep it, which will work in favor of the company by boosting productivity. This will likely improve his financial status and standard of living for his kids and so on.

(re-allocation of resources)

Arguably the second man is the least desirable candidate as he has been happy before and received many privileges the other two candidates could not have even dreamed of but he is not to blame for that. I don’t know how many of you are acquainted with the story “Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde…but from what I can tell, those who have not come face to face with poverty cannot handle it so well. Furthermore, everything starting from your accent, rigid behavior and formal attitude will mark you- which only makes it harder to deal with. Let’s be honest, this guy got the least sympathy. He’d be the happiest if someone assisted him. How many of you would discard your pride and turn from prince to pauper willingly? With that being said, men of means tend to have contacts so that may come in handy. However, it can be disputed that if he had useful contacts he wouldn’t be looking for a job.

(highest net gain in happiness)

Personally I’d choose the third as someone who is chronically ill will have medical expenses and that will weigh down on their standard of living. Alleviating the pain through treatment is vital and to those saying that unhealthy people won’t contribute to the workforce properly, I’ll simply say though your argument has merit, these human beings are not going to stand down and just take charity you know? Also, chronic means a constant pain and not terminal illness which threatens the life at any moment.

(pride and independence)

Do you think there is life on other planets?

I don’t think there is life on this planet. We’re all zombies being told how to live.

What music are you listening to right now?

In bloom by nirvana.. it’s about Kurt’s fans not understanding his music and how that depressed him

In three words, how would you describe your best friend?

“me”, “myself”, and “I”.

Who are you?

A man of many masks, yet one who wears none.

Book Review: The Kite Runner

This month all of the contributors of PWC are writing about Kite Runner so I pitched in.

Prestigious Writers' Club

The first question I tend to ask myself when reading a book is,

“What special significance does the title have?” 

Note that Amir the main character was a Kite FIGHTER. Hassan his servant on the other hand was a Kite RUNNER, and a pivotal moment in the book which changed everything and set things in motion like a domino effect occurred when Hassan chased after a kite to retrieve it for Amir.

Hence, just from the choice of title we can infer that much of the plot centers around Hassan and in turn he helps shape the course of the book significantly directly as well as indirectly.

This is later evinced when Amir relates how his guilt has been haunting him owing to the way he treated Hassan even though he had full knowledge about the lengths Hassan had gone to help him.

By the same token, Amir initially set…

View original post 587 more words

New Sprint

I can’t hear myself think!

I’m invisible ink

Your eyes are ultra violet

enabling you to interpret

in the time it takes to blink

that I’m out of sync

with my immediate surroundings

how can you be so understanding,

when the rest of the world is demanding?

While my pen’s purpose is unclear

with you here

there is no cause for frequent fear

And I will remain of good cheer

My momentary melancholy appears

to disappear

as lots and lots

of dots…

accompanied by rorschach ink blots

along with scrapped plots

have transformed these thoughts

into Gordian knots

still I refuse

to forget my muse

even if the struggle is of no use

futile efforts shall produce

one line of genuinely good news

ARC (Penguin’s First To Read) Review: And After Many Days

And after many days I finished reading this book 

Synopsis:

An unforgettable debut novel about a boy who goes missing, a family that is torn apart, and a nation on the brink

During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.
In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.
And After Many Days introduces Ile’s spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new.

Product Details (Amazon):

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tim Duggan Books (February 16, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1101903147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1101903148
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces

Review:

Being a member of Generation Z I have a short attention span, but “And After Many Days” reminded me of what’s so great about literature. It takes the struggle of men and women in trying times, of families struggling to to make it through the hour much less the day, of a nation that is going through an internal tug of war and makes it oh-so compelling in terms of scope and story telling.

My own nation Bangladesh, went through a war in 1971 and my grandfather’s younger brother was a freedom fighter named Assad Zaman who went missing in action when our own country men -turncoats- turned on us and executed him during a mission. There is a monument dedicated to him named “Assad Gate” in khorki Jessore his hometown. To be clear the monument serves as a grim reminder of the sacrifices that were made and acts as a tangible narration of the idea of freedom and indicates that the nation was built on selflessness and a meta identity which supersedes the necessity for only furthering the agenda of individuals.

Much in the same way, this book calls to mind once again that there have been and continue to be struggles all around the globe and that we should not be removed from those fights in terms of moral support because they too are people fighting to survive against oppressive regimes as well as opportunistic corporations deeming it high time to turn a profit.

Rating: 4.

Verdict: The jury -various aspects of my personality- decided that the book had reasonable pacing and layered plot structure but instead of sticking to one solid messaged it had several diluted messages. Just my opinion.

ARC (NetGalley) Review: Born On A Tuesday

Born on a Tuesday: A Novel
I was born on a Saturday but I still identified with the characters in this book.

Synopsis: 

From two-time Caine Prize finalist Elnathan John, a dynamic young voice from Nigeria, Born on a Tuesday is a stirring, starkly rendered first novel about a young boy struggling to find his place in a society that is fracturing along religious and political lines.

In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.

 

Product Details (Amazon): 

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (May 3, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802124828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802124821
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

 

Review:

 

The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.

Born On A Tuesday reveals why men turn to fundamentalism. In certain cultures, it is not uncommon for political parties to hire picketers with a paltry fee in exchange of sowing the seeds of discord and causing mass unrest. The services offered start anywhere from chanting a hackneyed slogan the demonstrators do not believe in to being as serious as vandalism.

Dantala is one of the men who offer such services but unfortunately on one occasion the job goes south and he has to flee as a result of making enemies out of men in high places.

As a citizen of Bangladesh I was able to find similarities in the mindset of the people of Nigeria in the context of the book and that of my own in the sense that those who have been cheated out of a better future by the “leaders” of the country need hope.

They find solace and commiseration in the form of faith. Alas, anyone who even appears to remotely threaten the said faith by challenging one or more of its established viewpoints are labelled blasphemers and struck down from whatever perch they stand on by means of apostasy laws.

It ought to be noted that, this book is highly relevant as the world is at war with radical ideologies. Furthermore, how do these human beings transform from calm-caring- citizens into cantankerous-cruel-compadres?  Their environment, early indoctrination, lack of better alternatives to seek hope or a greater purpose in… so before we condemn them we must understand on a fundamental level what drove them on their path of folly.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

I gave this book 4 stars out of 5. I wish I could establish an empathy link between me and the characters without having to will it. On some books you just connect, you know?

 

 

ARC (NetGalley) Review- The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley

Author: Eric Weiner

Genre: Travel, Historical and Psychology.

*Before we begin: I originally wrote a draft review but it accidentally got deleted when my browser crashed! Hence I had to write the review once again and there was a sharp fall in quality because I rushed through it- a major blunder if there ever was one. My mate Andi Rain from Ukraine pointed out how I could better this review and so here is the edited version. Have a good day! 

Eric Weiner doesn’t so much as quote the geniuses as he explores how their geographical location as well as the culture they were exposed to lead them on their path to greatness.

So which historical heavy weights can you expect?

If there is ever a time for name dropping that time is now:

Francis Galton (Statistician), Adam Smith (Wealth of the nations & Theory of moral sentiments), James Young Simpson (Anesthesia) , Shen Kuo (Magnetic Declination), Su Dongpo (Poet Emperor), David Humes (Philosopher), Albert Einstein (Theory of general relativity), Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali), Jagidish Chandra Bose (Plants can feel), Sigmund Freud (Freudian Psychoanalysis), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Composer), Hadyn (Mozart’s mentor & famous for his ‘the creation’), Schulbert (Composer), Beethoven (Composer & also mentored by Hadyn), Ovid (Roman Poet), Darwin (Theory of evolution), Diogenes Laertus (Historian), Leonardo Da Vinci (Artist), Michelangelo (Sculptor & Artist), Ghiberti (Paradise’s doors), Brunelleschi (duomo’s roof), Veracchio (Da vinci’s mentor), Pericles (Governor of Athens), Apostasia (Public Speaker), Plato (Philosopher), Pletho (Neoplatonian), Socrates (Philosopher and Plato’s mentor), Van Gogh (Tormented Artist), Picasso (Artist), Protagoras (Sophist), Thucydides (General turned historian), Nannerl (Mozart’s sister), Dante Alighieri (Legendary Poet), to name but a few are discussed in the book along with how they became as universally acclaimed as they are now, quirks and all.

It doesn’t end there though, various theories such as Danilevsky’s law which states that a state must be independent and autonomous to give birth to a wave of intellectuals as well as other ideas such as Janusian thinking -which explores holding two opposite thoughts together and coming up with a third perspective.

In the same vein, groupthink which deals with having the viewpoint of an individual changed to fit in with his or her peers, Dunning-Kruger effect where a person is incapable of understanding that they have not fully grasped a subject matter, theory of unintended consequences where one action leads to favorable accidents and by products- serendipity, bifurcation point of chaos theory where a person is made to choose between two things and can never turn back, the ability to make familiar concepts strange again so as to perceive something in greater depth and not be limited by parochialism which is to say a narrow outlook, among others concepts are brought to light.

By the same token, Jack Ma founder of Ali Baba makes a surprise appearance and discusses how exams went from being a tool for establishing meritocracy to a creativity snuffing system which leads to deadening effect and innovation gaps.

On the flip side, while these cities have rich cultural heritages, the artists and philosopher of today’s time have a lot to live up to and often find themselves shadow boxing with their predecessor’s ever looming legacy.

 The book is replete with engaging content and invaluable information. Not only does it have all the makings of a splendid read but it also possesses the ingredients for a spicy and diverse experience which leaves the reader much more aware of other cultures than when he or she began reading the first page.

For Savant and the closet bibliophile alike, this book is worth the time, attention and discussion that will follow. Although it is not recommended that the reader chain this book to the reading desk like in the Medici era when the relative value of books could be equated to that of a modern car, it should be noted that The Geography Of Genius is worth treasuring.

 

Digital Amnesia

Fragments of remembrance

are like a poem learned in childhood by rote

a novel line or two I wrote

 the rest being largely contributed by others

starting from memories with brothers and grandmothers

while accessing all those micro magical moments

not once did I let antipathy foment

knowing full well

nostalgia’s spell

lasts only so long

but broken bonds still stay strong

I learned without appreciating fully

just how incredibly insipid instants could pass me by dully

though I may suffer from digital amnesia

black and white pictures color outside the lines

memoirs with its concomitant hardcover book spines

perennial pages perused in the market place of ideas

act as  an alternative analogue ambrosia

an advanced age

of 128 gigabyte solid state drives package deals

come along with  2 bit hearts

Technology changes the way memories are formed. You can always google the birthday of your friend -that is if you don’t wait for facebook to send you a notification- among other things. There are interesting tools available such as that of the website Future Me where you can address an e-mail to yourself in the future. I’ve met people who go to exclusive places just to take selfies and post it on the internet. Since when did experience make room for what others thought of the experience and get ranked accordingly? When I hear people say “Live a little” I don’t assume they mean on the internet! Not that netizens are not entitled to their memories on mmorgps or internet relay chats, it’s just that those should not be a replacement for off-screen memories but rather a complement.

Velleity

I would passionately paint a proper picture of the context

but what’s the point?

They’d just as soon accuse me of  pretext

and also assume I’m guilty as charged

School why do you try

to play me for a fool?

Whenever I asked a question to learn

A slap on the wrist was my reward

for speaking out of turn!

So many times I was made to stand

because I wanted to better understand

what it was of me that you demand

isn’t school life just grand?

While you were busy conveniently turning a blind eye

for anyone rich enough to hail from Versailles

 the rest of us had to fend for ourselves

borrowing whatever books we could from the library shelves

Ten years worth of tension

 a decadent decade of condescension

waking up to apprehension

you were never my ikigai

yet I managed to get by

volition lost to velleity

has been killing me

now by my own decree

I will not return to the pursuit of a degree

but of knowledge itself

so I can better understand myself