Asian Writers

June is dedicated to authors with ASIAN ORIGIN....review of books in this category will be posted all month....

Friday, December 2, 2011

The color Purple

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I came across the name of this book from one of the mailers of Oprah’s website that I had subscribed to. Since then it had always been on my mind as a book I had to read – why? Well for starters the name stood out and for the other obvious reason that it had won the Pulitzer. (Should one of the reasons have been that it was referred by Oprah…?)


BTW, this is a 2 decades old book and not easily available. So when I saw it thrown across one of the book shelves of the bookstore that I frequent (due to the lack of any other store in the vicinity) I picked it up without a second thought.

The book surprised me – I was not expecting a “letter-format” book addressed to “God” – I had my fill of such letters, but the content of these letters was different and that kept me hooked. Its written with a different narrative style, the English very old African that at times was a little confusing to follow (and required re-reading).

It’s about a lot of things – the “color” regime that was prevalent in the 40s, the oppression of the women back then and let’s be honest still now (perhaps to a lesser degree), gay love, the Christian missionaries – but the thing that sticks with you long after is the innocence and simplicity of the main character and you sort of blend into her life and smile and cry with her in equal measure.

But then there are strong characters and controversial themes as well that are a sharp contrast to Celie (the main character, did I mention that?). Sofia is one such person – growing up among men she has learnt to fight them unlike Celia who is quite servile and subjugates to all the pain and humiliation – be it from her father or her husband. Even when Sofia is jailed and later out of it her pride and do or die spirit at times makes you shake your head in wonder and you kind of get to be in awe of her.

The disappointing character for me in this whole novel and around whom the story sort of wraps itself as does Celie is Shug Avery. She is supposed to be the role model for Celie, however, in my view her characterization falls short and does not in any way mesmerize the readers (i.e me) as it did Celie and her husband (and other lovers). That is one failing in the book for me as I fail to see the reason why Celie is so in love with her (now this is the controversial theme that I was talking about – all the gay love – I could do without this too).

Another thing that was not required was Nettie’s detailed life in Africa. It was unnecessary and distracted from the main story and for me actually made it quite boring in parts. The rest of the characters are also quickly forgotten….

It was after a long time that I got my hand on a decent book that it was too much for me to put a pause on the reading. But I had to as I had to go to work. And there I killed quite a bit of the fun by reading the summary of the novel on Wikipedia. That was a foolish thing to do. But even after that the book was a lovely read and is recommended (although it will appeal more to the women readers than the men because of it’s…er…subject)

The Color Purple

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