Review of The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj

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About The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

Max Pzoras is the poster child for the American Dream. The child of Greek immigrants who grew up in a dangerous New York housing project, he triumphed over his upbringing and became a successful Wall Street analyst. Yet on the frigid December night he’s involved in a violent street scuffle, Max begins to confront questions about suffering and mortality that have dogged him since his mother’s death.

His search takes him to the farthest reaches of India, where he encounters a mysterious night market, almost freezes to death on a hike up the Himalayas, and finds himself in an ashram in a drought-stricken village in South India. As Max seeks answers to questions that have bedeviled him—can yogis walk on water and live for 200 years without aging? Can a flesh-and-blood man ever achieve nirvana?—he struggles to overcome his skepticism and the pull of family tugging him home. In an ultimate bid for answers, he embarks on a dangerous solitary meditation in a freezing Himalayan cave, where his physical and spiritual endurance is put to its most extreme test.

By turns a gripping adventure story and a journey of tremendous inner transformation, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is a contemporary take on man’s classic quest for transcendence.

My Thoughts

Amazing book. I was swept away with Max’s quest for enlightenment. I felt such a connection with him, his many trials, self-doubts, inner struggles and thoughts. With each challenge presented, spiritual discoveries and determination left a lasting impression. He was ready to tap into his internal yogi, all he really needed was guidance and to pursue his quest full gusto, which as we discover is not easy.

This story felt more nonfictional than fiction, I identified with Max on many levels. The highs and lows, questions answered, questions still requiring answers, there is no way you cannot become attached and invested in Max. I had no idea how his search would end, all I know is I kept rooting for him and celebrated his achievements and mourned setbacks.

I love a book posing questions, evoking my mind, engaging my senses, cutting deep emotionally and Bajaj fulfilled my need. His wonderful writing and intense characterization of Max is powerful. Based loosely on Bajaj’s own experience is no surprise there is an unmistakable rawness and authenticity throughout.

Captivating read, engaging and convincing leaving me more than satiated. Max is memorable and will stay with me quite a while, in fact, this book we be reread often, yes, it’s that amazing. Looking forward to more for the talented Karan Bajaj.

About Karan Bajaj1687270

Karan Bajaj is the #1 bestselling novelist of KEEP OFF THE GRASS (HarperCollins India: 2008) and JOHNNY GONE DOWN (HarperCollins India: 2010) with more than 250,000 copies of his novels in print. Both novels were optioned into films, the latter just entering pre-production and slotted for a 2017 international release. He was selected as one of the “Top 35 Under 35 Indian” by India Today and was nominated for all of India’s top literary awards—the Crossword Book of the Year, Indiaplaza Golden Quill and Teacher’s Indian Achievers Awards(Arts).

THE YOGA OF MAX’S DISCONTENT, Karan’s first international novel, will be published by Penguin Random House on May 3rd 2016. It was inspired by Karan’s one year spiritual sabbatical learning Yoga in a South Indian Ashram, meditating in complete silence in the Vedantic tradition in the Indian Himalayas and living as a Buddhist Monk in a Scottish monastery. Now back in New York, Karan is a certified Yoga teacher attached to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center while working his day job as the Chief Marketing Officer of the cult mom brand, Aden and Anais.

Born in 1979 into an Army family, Karan is an engineering graduate from BIT Ranchi and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.

Published May 3rd 2016 by Riverhead Books (first published June 11th 2015)

Review & Giveaway: Nagasaki by Éric Faye, Emily Boyce (Translator)

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About Nagasaki

Based on a true story. Winner of the 2010 Académie Française novel award.

In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki, meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives quietly on his own. Or so he believes. Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home. But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal? This prize‐winning novel is a moving tale of alienation in the modern world.

My Review

A psychological mind bender based on an actual incident in Nagasaki 2008.

The story profiles two very different people however the one similarity shared is loneliness. One prefers isolation, the other require a strong sense of belonging. The very end explains why this particular house was selected.

Both suffer from the aftermath as is revealed which is poignant and affecting

Beautifully written, a moving story. Simple yet complex. Sad and insightful.

Admittedly, I searched my house after reading Nagasaki, just in case……

About Éric Fayeimage

Born in Limoges, Éric Faye is a journalist and the prize-winning author of more than twenty books, including novels and travel memoirs. He was awarded the Académie Française Grand Prix du Roman in 2010 for Nagasaki.

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Nagasaki. Open to US residents only. Ends 1/12/16
ENTRY-FORM

Published April 14th 2014 by Gallic Books (first published 2010)

Ade by Rebecca Walker

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A young biracial American girl travels for a year with her best friend. While in Africa, the friends go through various individual changes. Traveling to a remote island off the coast of Kenya, she falls in love with an African Muslim man, Ade.

The reader can’t help admiring Walker’s exquisite writing. Her words are full of emotion and depth leaving you agog.

The unnamed narrator sheds layers of her old self like a snake molting. We are privy to her metamorphoses as she discovers who she is as she feels comfortable and at home exploring different countries, traditions and cultures. Her falling in love with Ade is innocent and beautiful as their hearts and feelings unfold and contract. Slowly love develops, as these two souls from contrasting worlds blend uninterrupted as you remain hopeful their union fails to become irreparably disjointed.

“Again, I felt a sense of belonging- the slow, irrational dissolution of the self I had known, and another core truth of being emerging in concert with the landscape.” –

Thoroughly enjoyed this novella, however, I felt it was too short and subsequently underdeveloped.

Recommendation: 4/5

Review: In Praise of Hatred by Khaled Khalifa

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In Praise of Hatred
Khaled Khalifa
Thomas Dunne Books April 8, 2014
Pages 320
ISBN13:  9781250052346

GoodreadsAmazonIndieboundPowell’s Books

Recommendation: 4/5

From Goodreads:
In 1980s Syria, a young Muslim girl lives a secluded life behind the veil in the vast and perfumed house of her grandparents. Her three aunts—the pious Maryam, the liberal Safaa, and the free-spirited Marwa—raise her with the aid of their ever-devoted blind servant. Soon the high walls of the family home are no longer able to protect the girl from the social and political chaos outside. Witnessing the ruling dictatorship’s bloody campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, she is filled with hatred for the regime and becomes increasingly radical. In the footsteps of her beloved uncle, Bakr, she launches herself into a fight for her religion, her country, and ultimately, for her own future. Against the backdrop of real-life events, In Praise of Hatred is a stirring, layered story that echoes the violence currently plaguing the Middle East.

My Thoughts
Khalifa creates a powerful narrative with an extremely fascinating protagonist. Banned in Syria after it was published in Beirut, my curiosity was instantly ignited. “Banned” always captures my attention and given my inquisitive nature I HAD to read this intriguing novel.

Our narrator is a nameless young girl. She resides with her aunts and finds herself drifting away from her family. Visiting her parents and family out of duty as opposed to emotional appeal.

Her story is gritty, dark and provoking. The entire novel is penetrating, leaving the reader feeling intrusive and encroaching. Unfamiliar territory makes the reader uncomfortable creating a fine line between the narrative being fiction or non-fiction. Eerily plausible and the hatred seeping from the protagonist is tangible. Given the recent and ongoing events occurring in Syria, Khalifa’s writing is searing making for quite an affecting read. Our young protagonist references “infidel West” among many other examples she feels antagonism towards leaving an unpleasant taste in the audiences mouth. With her direct and brutal comments, you find yourself enthralled, turning every page.

Our young protagonist is introduced to ‘hate’ when she is taught Satan creeps within her body. As puberty begins, she despises her body’s betrayal. Any young woman flaunting her body is despised by our main character.

As she learns of the significant battle between the Syrian government and the Muslim Brotherhood, she begins to despise the government and begins her descent from a conservative discipline to a hardcore radical teaching. Her hatred escalates as the violence and injustices increase. Her family is divided and torn by the horrific battle of sects.

An eye opener of a story, especially through the eyes of a young Muslim girl. The events are real, the setting taking place in 1980’s, the story rings all too plausible as this family and Syria deal with the conflict.

The level of hatred towards sects, infidels and anything in opposition is frightening. I never realized the magnitude of hate or the lengths taken against outsiders. Such strong convictions all based on differences, willing to kill, willing to be killed. Hatred is powerful and this novel is an example of how strong hatred can be. Disturbing story, educational and terrifyingly memorable. Khalifa exposes Syria, its people, government and readers to its dark underbelly, raw, candid. Three groups with three distinct agendas for their Syria, blood spilled, injustices repeated and what gain has been made except body counts, with hatred no one prevails.