Book Review: Yarn by Pragya Bhagat (ARC)


ISBN 978-8193642887

Genre: Non Fiction/ Memoir

Publishers: Bombaykala Books

Price: Rs. 149/- (Kindle) | Rs. 450/- (Paperback) Rs. 650/- (Hardcover)  
( I got the book for review from the author)
Behind the Book

"Naniji, tell me your story." What begins as a young woman's question to her grandmother unexpectedly turns into a family saga. Compiled through family albums, home videos, journal entries, and interviews, Yarn follows the life of Pragya Bhagat's grandmother, Shyama. At the age of ten, the pushes Shyama from Pakistan to India, but this is only the first of her many migrations. As each chapter of Shyama's life unfolds, Pragya reflects on her own experiences with her grandmother, on family and friendship, on loving and losing. In her search for Naniji's story, Pragya discovers parts of herself. Poignant and vulnerable, Yarn is the extraordinary tale of an ordinary Indian family, its joys and fears, its silences and secrets.

About the Author

Pragya Bhagat's work has been published in The Open Road Review, the Huffington Post, Muse India, The Bombay Review, and Helter Skelter, amongst other publications. Additionally, she has performed her poetry across America and India, including at India's first spoken word festival and the Goa Arts and Literature Festival. After teaching students and coaching teachers and earning degrees in Biology and Social Work, she now lives in the hills of Kumaon, writing.

I recently came across the term #FemmeMarch where the whole month of March, book bloggers read women writers and celebrate their writings with this hashtag across social media. For me, it couldn't have been a better way to start #FemmeMarch than this book!

Stellar, poignant and profound, Yarn by Pragya Bhagat resonated with me in more than one ways. Apart from the fact that a woman writer is talking about her grandmother, a strong woman much ahead of her times, it is the language of the book that is makes it endearing. Keeping the language simple and to the point, the author still manages to touch your heart. Family secrets have the power to either make you or break you with their harshness. Here, the author weaves a beautiful imagery with memories of her grandmother through anecdotes and stories. I loved the refreshingly different writing style. Part memoir, part essays, part observations - all in all highly evocative.

Having read the author's previous work, I had a glimpse into her powerful writing style. However with this book, she took me by surprise with her lyrical prose. Her words are like magnet, they pull you and hold your attention till the very end. Family stories are powerful, undoubtedly. Yet the author always carries a risk of overplaying the emotions, in the process ruining it for the reader. Because an author is connected to the subject on an emotional level, while the reader is not. This is the challenge a lot of memoir writers face and many, fail.

It is noteworthy here that Pragya Bhagat manages to play with it in the right dose, teasing a reader enough to pique the curiosity and tickling them to leave them smiling. Another brownie point for the author was the formatting of the book. It is so brilliantly done and sets the mood for the reader with intricate designs that adorn the text.

I recently lost my grandfather and this book reminded me of him. This book makes for a very tender reading, a heart rendering account of the harsh realities of life depicted in a manner that the reader is left in an emotional mess long after having finished the book. It makes you think of childhood, of the vacations spent at grandparents' house, the never ending-never enough story telling sessions with them, the childhood secrets that got buried in the past and those memories that stayed in a dusty corner of the heart. The book's narration has shown both the sides of life in an eloquent manner, balancing the good and the bad times of life beautifully.

My grandmother can no longer read due to age and I keep reading books to her from time to time. Maybe an effort to recreate that childhood magic when she did that to me. Or maybe, an effort to not deprive her of the magic of stories. This is one book I am going to read to her soon and I can't wait to see her reaction to it. 

Strongly recommended. Gift it to a loved one, read it along with a loved one and bask in the magic family ties. 

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Jackfruit Idli - Strong connection to childhood and yet is unique with unforgettable flavours!

Source: Archana's Kitchen