Wednesday, February 16, 2011

World of Words Wednesdays - Looking for Bapu

Looking for BapuThe Preview: When I joined the South Asian Challenge this year along with a few more (did I bite off more than I could chew? In all likelihood, yes, just like I end up doing other elsewheres too.. but am I enjoying it? I would have to say - An Enthusiastic Yes!), I knew a few authors I would be reading including Salman Rushdie, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Tagore, and also Munshi Premchand (need to see where I can find his books though here in the US), but I also wanted to read other authors whom I had not before so this meant going through the internet searching for books and authors,  and Anjali Banerjee was one such result. Her first book that I found - Looking for Bapu- it was in the childrens’ section - I wondered whether I should read it but given my great experience with Rushdie's books for children (Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Luka and the Fire of Life), I knew I should at least try to read it - the result - I read it all in one sitting and now am one satisfied reader with little gems of wisdom and humor floating around in my head.
The Review: Looking for Bapu tells the story of 8-year-old Anu as he deals with feelings of grief, guilt, fear, and loss after the death of his beloved grandpa, Bapu. Throughout the book, he researches fantastic websites (http://www.bring-back-dead-loved-ones.com) to find out various ways he can get his Bapu back as he is convinced that his Bapu is still there. His friends Unger, Izzy, and Andy help him in his endeavors. The author depicts the way a child reacts very well here (I can easily see my 8 year olds’ thinking wheels turning the same way asking similar questions) – the child’s inquisitive mind, his feeling of helplessness in the grand scheme of things, his faith, his goofiness and more. The way adults and friends react and try to help Anu are also very real and help the reader (whatever age) relate to the book and its characters.
In a post 9/11 US, as Anu deals with racism, he also realizes that being just a different skin color is not the only way you are different.
One humorous example of this: when they are looking for coffee mugs imprinted with names in a store (Adam, Alan, Amy, Betsy,….) and both Izzy and Unger mention that there’s never an Izzy or Unger in these stores
‘I know there won’t be an Anu. I never bother to look. I never realized that Unger and Izzy wouldn’t find their names either. I feel closer to them now, closer because we’re here together, together in trouble, all of us with funny names, looking for holy.’

Other quotable quotes from Looking for Bapu:
Pg 30 When a friend tells Anu - 'I collect curiosities over the internet.' He thinks - 'I never knew you could collect curiosity. I guess that since Bapu died, my family has been collecting sadness.'
Pg 19 'Doesn’t this day know he has gone? Doesn’t it miss him the way I do?'
Pg 63 ‘My dad is not what anyone calls him.  My dad is just my dad.  Is it brave to be what you are, I wonder? Brave to just be yourself?”
You can find more such wonderful quotes in ‘Looking for Bapu’. 
A great read and I am looking forward to reading other books by Anjali Banerjee now.

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