When I heard the book’s name, Sleeping on Jupiter, I knew I would be reading it.
I am a sucker for poetic titles! I looked at the stunning cover and I knew I would be buying it, sooner, rather than later. I put off reading it thinking it would be heavy because of the themes it dealt with. But you forget everything once you start reading; you are sucked into the narrative and transported into another world.
Three elderly women, Gouri, Latika and Vidya who are friends, and on the wrong side of 70, realize that they have never taken a holiday by themselves. They decide to take a holiday and fulfill their dream before senility descends. They are travelling by train to Jarmuli, a seaside temple town. Nomi, a young girl, rather untidily dressed and with a wild look about her, is also on the train. They wonder why she is going to a place like Jarmuli. When asked she says she is going to shoot a documentary there. What happens in the next five days, and how their lives collide revealing surprising connections, forms the rest of the story.
The book stands at 250 pages and I desperately wished it were longer. She touches on so many themes and tells the stories of so many characters but lets us draw our own conclusions, and finish the book in our minds.
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- It’s a short novel and
Munro-esque in its treatment of the subject matter – seamlessly flitting between the past and the present, amalgamating various characters’ stories to form a coherent narrative, and leaving it open ended for the reader to fill in and decipher. It needs immense restraint to let it go and not try to tie up everything with a neat little bow. She respects the intelligence of the reader and never spoon-feeds.
- She tells a story and through the characters’ stories, we get a window into many issues that plague India, like religion, violence and homosexuality.
- The friendship between the friends, and the love found in the most unlikeliest of places will reassure you that in spite of the bleak world we live in, life is worth fighting for.
- Religion plays an important role in the novel. On one hand it shows how religion ruins people by their blind belief and following rituals and customs without asking questions, while at the same time it highlights the way it helps people to live their lives at peace with themselves, in spite of life continuing to batter them.
- How debilitating forgetfulness could be by the way it creates havoc, is very well portrayed.
- People cope and continue to live as normal a life as possible in spite of having a terrifying childhood, by coming to terms with what happened in the past; this is one of the most important themes of the book.
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- Jarmuli could be any place in India, the author has said, but some of the descriptions brought Puri and Konark to mind, probably because I have visited those places and have seen some of the landmarks mentioned.
- Sleeping on Jupiter was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Anuradha Roy won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for it. She co-owns a publishing house, Permanent Black, with her husband. She works as a book cover designer there. She enjoys pottery, painting and photography.
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- I finished Sleeping on Jupiter in a day. For an award winning book to be immensely readable is rare. The last time I found a book of such calibre would be The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
⚠ ⚠ ⚠Sleeping on Jupiter is for mature readers as it deals with themes of rape, child abuse and paedophilia. Parental Guidance is advised while recommending this book for young readers.
A slim volume which hits you where it hurts.