20 December 2017

Review #693: The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Love, it never dies. It never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it. Love can make you immortal”

----Gayle Forman

Janice Pariat, an award winning Indian writer, has penned an evocative and mesmerizing "fictional" biography through love called, The Nine-Chambered Heart that narrates the life story of a woman through nine characters, who has previously loved her or whom she has loved, either briefly or longwindedly in her life. The readers will only get to know this woman through the varied perspectives of the nine characters. And the one thing is clear from reading this book, that love never stays permanently in reality, but it lives on inside one's heart for as long as time goes on, and that is aptly captured by the author in this book.


Profound, illuminating and deeply moving, this is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman, told by those whom she has loved or been loved by.

Nine characters recall their relationship with this same woman, their stories and memories breathing life into her, drawing us close, but stopping short of true intimacy as her own voice remains unspoken. Piecing together these slivers, it becomes hard to decide which version of her is real.

Set in familiar, nameless cities, moving between East and West, The Nine-Chambered Heart is a delicate, poignant and exquisitely written novel. A compendium of shifting perspectives that reveals how it is possible to exist intimately with another – yet, perhaps, not know them at all.

A journey of a young Indian woman from East to West swaying backwards and forwards for her education, for her brief marriage, for her affair and for her job, sadly all through out this intimate journey through love and life, the readers will never once get to contemplate the identity or the depth of her nature, as the readers will only get to contemplate her through her 9 lovers, who have either broken her heart or have come back to haunt her or she has loved them fiercely. All her love stories do not have any sort of happy ending, it eventually left both, her as well as her lover brokenhearted. One is her art teacher, one a dorm friend, one a married and celebrity writer, one a college student, another is also a writer and some more just like her, and each time the woman fell in love with these 9 characters either instantly through conversation or sometimes even just by a look or across a certain time frame.

Just from the very first page itself, this book arrested me and kept me glued to its very core till the turn of the last page. And what can I say, the unique voice of the national award winning writer not only made me visualize the emotional flow amongst the characters but also made me sentimental and touched my heart thoroughly. Not only that, even I too had a handful of lovers, and I was able to relate to the relationships easily, some of them were made me feel like reading about my own experiences with love and relationships. And yes I do agree, love is not forever with one person, love comes to our lives and touches us through many characters and through many ways, be it a teacher or even a pet animal or a stranger or a friend. And only through all those experiences with love, we learn to embrace and accept our fatal flaws.

The author has poured out her best emotions while penning this part biographical anthology about various relationships, which may or may not have a happy ending. Her writing style is exquisite and is laced with deep and powerful emotions that is one or another, is going to make an impact in the souls of its readers. The narrative is painted vividly with feelings and is kept close to reality, ensuring that the readers are able to relate to the stories. With a poetic prose and a fast pace, this book is an absolute unputdownable, the stories of which are not only addictive to read about but will also make the readers teary eyed at the end of each story.

The characters, other than the main character around whom the nine stories revolve, are extremely well developed through their inner voices, wishes, dreams and emotions, be it lust or sympathy or love or grief. All the nine characters, who impacted the life of the young woman reflect realism and honesty through their demeanor. The author has strikingly portrayed the voices of her nine characters, who describe the central character always with love and in first person narrative, that is bound to make the readers feel like reading someone's personal journal that is raw with emotions and sometimes very intimate.

I recommend this book highly to all of those who have got burnt by love at least once in their life time. Also this is one of the best books that I have read this year, books should be like this one, which speaks not only for itself but also for its readers in a personal way.

Verdict: Thoroughly poetic, heart breaking and raw,
this is a must read book!

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Janice is a writer based between London and New Delhi/Shillong (depending on the weather). Her first book Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories won the Sahitya Akademi Young Writer Award and the Crossword Award for Fiction in 2013. Her novel Seahorse has been published by Vintage, Random House India, in November 2014.
She studied English Literature at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
Her work has featured in a wide number of national magazines & newspapers including OPEN, Art India, Tehelka, Caravan: A Journal of Culture & Politics, Outlook & Outlook Traveller, Motherland, and Biblio: A Review of Books, among others.
Visit her here

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1 comment:

  1. This isn't the sort of book I would be willing to read but I find the premise fascinating and can see how it would pull you in instantly. The subject of love can be an overdone one but when a writer is extremely talented and capable of pouring their heart out in a way that captivates their readers so, it sure is worthy of revisiting.


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