Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Purple Hibiscus - Book Review

It was after my favourite actor's current choice of author i narrowed down to "Purple Hibiscus" novel by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I was in one of those usual shopping trips on weekends. As i was browsing through the books, keen to buy "Master and the margarita". The help desk guy at Spencer Plaza's Landmark left me to search for the book all by my ownself as there was only one copy available.

As i was fervently searching, "Purple Hibiscus" caught my attention. Though there were more copies of the same author's "Half of a yellow sun"( the same one as told by my favourite actor in his interview) but only one copy of "Purple Hibiscus(PH)" was left. I took both books and glanced them. Well, i had already the plot of 'Half of a yellow sun' in wikipedia and so i wasn't interested in that very much. But when i read the description of "Purple hibiscus", somehow it quite reminded me of "God of Small Things(GOST)" by Arunthathi Roy. Fine.. i paid for the book and started to home. As i was travelling i was just flipping through the pages of the novel.. To my very astonishment, some of the comments had compared PH to GOST.

GOST always remains my most favourite novel and so i was anticipating something of that magnitude in PH too. Hmm.. Well.. i wasn't disappointed much... Like GOST, PH is a first person Narration of a girl named "Kambili". Kambili grows up in a wealthy household very strictly managed by her religiously fanatic father Eugene. She and her brother Jaja follow a meticulous schedule of life as planned by their father. They are introduced to a total new world in their Aunt Ifeoma's house, where both the children come to realize their lost part of life. Read the book to find an unexpected climax.

In terms of the characters, i liked Jaja the most. He's the epitome of sacrifice, a caring brother and a lovable son. Next would be the Aunt, Ifeoma. She is all the more pragmatic in her approach to life and religion. The novel contributes to throw light on the life of Nigerians during civil wars. The impact of insurgency on innocent people is well portrayed in the novel. Also a lot could be known about the igbo people and their practices.

Like GOST, where "malayalam" was used deliberately, you could find here a lot of 'igbo'.. Also just like the 'papachi' of GOST, I disliked the 'papa' of PH. Like the "paradise pickles and preserves" Papa of PH owns a food factory.

Afterall i didn't regret choosing to read this one, but quite expected an explanation for Eugene's fanatism and other loose ends in the plot.

If you like GOST, you would like PH too, but mind that comparisons are inevitable !!! Read that this book was long listed for the BOOKER prize in the then year..