- Author: Shubhangi Swarup
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Hardcover: 344 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins India (31 July 2018)
- Language: English
Life is whispering in my ears with its irresistible melody,
offering me the the water of immortality
and the earth of transformation.
Far, very far, from the depths of the hollow sky
death is calling out to me in a simple, clear voice.
Latitudes of Longing is a lyrical debut that definitely marks the arrival of a fantastic literary talent. Covering a vast expanse of land, people, and numerous stories, this book has everything to offer you. It is astonishing, riveting, emotionally enriched, and wonderfully crafted!
The blurb on Goodreads:
The novel begins in the depths of the Andaman Sea and follows geological and emotional fault lines through the Irrawaddy delta and the tourist-trap of Thamel, to end amidst the highest glaciers and passes of the Karakorams. The story sweeps through worlds and times that are inhabited by a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who talks to them; Lord Goodenough who travels around the furthest reaches of the Raj, giving names to nameless places; a geologist working towards ending futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a superstitious dictator and a mother struggling to get her revolutionary son released; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who turns first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.
A book filled with varied life-forms ranging from turtle to humans, a book comprising different landscapes – from Andamans to the Karakoram passes, a book which speaks many stories – of a clairvoyant lady to the one eager to get her son released from prison, a book which is poetic, artistic, aesthetic, enriching, and above all, magical. To sum it all, this book is beautiful! It contains the elixir in each page where rests the multiple words and emotions flowing out of a master storyteller’s head.
I didn’t know that this book would become close to my heart for its sheer narration which is indeed riveting. I am amazed at the coherence of the different stories which run parallel to each other, in different lands, in different times and yet stand still for a reader willing to devour them. The gripping writing style had me and the lines such as “Life is more than the sum of its breaths and terrors” won me completely. I am still in the awe of the way the plot has been designed, developed and presented that beguiled not only me but would hook anyone pursuing a delightful and honest work of art.
The character development is wonderful and the stunning descriptions of several places made me long to visit them, hold those picturesque vistas in the periphery of my vision, and savor their atmosphere under my warm and slow breath. In a long time, I came across a heart-warming book that pulled me out of my reading slump and made me turn each page of it to discover something new. It was like the stories running through the novel were calling me to hustle and slow down and stop by to touch the lives of those who live within the pages but breathe in all of us.
It is a dream-like narrative that catches you off guard and you have no option but to go with the flow of the book. Initially, I thought that the whole book would revolve around Girija Prasad and Chanda Devi but no! the book stretches to an unimaginable infinity. Those infinities strengthen your imagination and shake your beliefs. There is not one but several protagonists who tell their story in their own way. The author has dealt with them very well. Nowhere you would find an unbridgable gap. There is an island, there is a fault line, there is a valley and there is this snow desert. So many seasons, so many reasons, to live the book in an enthralling fashion. You get to know the Karens, The Burma, tensions arising amidst India, Pakistan & China, their mutual distrust and mistrust, anguish and fights and consequently everything boiling down to that one auspicious hour of Courtship! Aah! What a book, What a lovely piece to cherish and treasure to keep. It touched the contours of my heart and dissolved it. It didn’t end in 326 pages. Its essence still continues to brush past my skin.
Some dreams are so beautiful and fragile, they are left unrealized.
MY RATING: 5/ 5
BOOK YOUR COPY Latitudes of Longing
*I received a review copy of the book from Harper Collins and The Curious Reader ( thecuriousreader.in) for an honest and unbiased review. *