Book Review, Fiction

Jasmine Days by Benyamin|Winner of the JCB Prize, 2018|

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Sameera Parvin moves to an unnamed Middle Eastern city to live with her father and her relatives. She thrives in her job as a radio jockey and at home she is the darling of the family. But her happy world starts to fall apart when revolution blooms in the country. As the people’s agitation gathers strength, Sameera finds herself and her family embroiled in the politics of their adopted land. She is forced to choose between family and friends, loyalty and love, life and death.

Jasmine Days is the heart-rending story of a young woman in a city where the promise of revolution turns into destruction and division.

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‘Jasmine Days’ is the story of Sameera Parveen- a headstrong dreamer, who comes to an unnamed city in search for a job. Once she lands a job as a Radio Jockey, her next big task is to bond with her father, who had to stay away from his family so that he could send more money to his wife and kids.

Sameera lives in ‘Taya Ghar’, the name derived from her uncle, who is powerful and very helpful to one and all. In this new city, she has also made a couple of friends, standing distance in that list is Ali- a Sunni Muslim who is a staunch believer in revolution and bloodshed in order to attain freedom and equality.

While all the hatred is brewing in the underbelly, one particular event sets a bloody, nasty revolution in motion. A fight between the oppressed and the ruler, a fight that can also be called as mass murder driven by hatred.

Sameera finds herself questioning the need for this massacre, and has a thousand different questions in her mind. She, however, has no choice because fate has other plans. ‘Jasmine Days’ is about many individuals, some have seen pain like no other, while others live in a privileged, luxurious world. It is also about views and how it is the experience that shapes them and repetition that sends one to the path of destruction.

Sameera hasn’t seen a protest of this magnitude. She came to the city with big dreams, and notions of freedom and equality, but all that beautiful exterior had poison in its belly and that altered Sameera’s life in a huge way.

What didn’t work for me was the climax. It could have been written in a better way, especially Sameera’s character. Toward the end, we find a stubborn Sameera, devoid of logic and semblance, which definitely messes such a beautifully constructed plot.

But well, Congratulations to the author, translator, and publisher for this big win.

ratings4.5

Purchase Links:                                   |Amazon Hardcover|

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3 thoughts on “Jasmine Days by Benyamin|Winner of the JCB Prize, 2018|”

  1. Have you read any of the other JCB short-listed ones? 🙂 Hearing loads of good stuff about “Latitudes of Longing”. The premise of “Jasmine Day” sounds pretty intense.

    Liked by 1 person

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