"A border, gentlemen, is for crossing."
"The story's path unfurls, not knowing where it will stop, tacking to the right and left, twisting and turning, allowing anything and everything to join in the narration. It will emerge from within a volcano, swelling silently as the past boils forth into the present, bringing steam, embers and smoke."
"helped generations to make sense of a period in the subcontinent's history that is quite difficult to fathom in its entirety."
"a tale woven of many threads, encompassing modern urban life, ancient history, folklore, feminism, global warming, Buddhism and much more."
It is all that and more; it is also hands down one of the best books of my reading year so far and sadly, I would not have known about it except that it was longlisted for the International Booker Prize which it would go on to win, deservedly so in my opinion. I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like it.
"grown tired of breathing for them, feeling their feelings, bearing their desires, carrying their animosities. She was tired of all of them and she wanted to glide into the wall with a tremor ..."
"deliberate and playful, as in double entrendre and punning, an accidental mishmash of sameness, or a mythical reverberation."
Admittedly I didn't get all of the references and spent much time with my tablet on my lap while reading, but really, it just didn't matter to me -- I absolutely loved this book. It is a great example of what a writer can do not just with story but also with language and storytelling; above all it is a book about borders, physical and otherwise. "A Border," as Ma says to a group of men in Pakistan, "is for crossing" and it is just a joy to read about how many borders this woman (and other people as well) refuses to be confined or defined by as she comes into her own. As the back-cover blurb notes, it is a "timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders." There is so much happening in this book that makes it pretty impossible to encompass in a brief post, but it is rare that I find something like this novel which, despite the tragedies here, is so very life affirming in so many different ways. If you need the quick story fix you won't find it here; I'd recommend it to those readers who are willing to take a chance on something very different than the norm. I feel so lucky having made my way through these pages; it's a novel I will never, ever forget.