'Darkness and Beyond (A Medley of Many Lives) by G. S. Subbu.

About the Book:

Title: Darkness and Beyond (A Medley of Many Lives)
Author: G. S. Subbu
Publisher: Notion Press
Language: English
No. of pages: 208
Year of Publication: 2016

ISBN:  9781945579073

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Whether it is a journey to the native village ending in the discovery of one's roots, or the old man who awaits his end with equanimity in the hope that there is always something beyond the darkness that would soon engulf him, GS.Subbu delves deep into the lives of people who we may have met sometime, somewhere and left their imprint on us. The old woman totally immobilized, slipping into dementia; the revolutionary who believes that violence only begets more violence; the young man or the middle-aged woman's search for an ideal relationship; a visually challenged boy; the patriarch who fights his way back from an abused childhood; the savant's search for that secret to ultimate happiness and bliss; or the ordeals faced by a young widow, these are nine stories of 'Hope'; nine slices of life!

About the Author:

https://twitter.com/shillonggalAn Engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, by qualification and a Banker by profession, he retired from the State Bank of India in the year 2010 and settled down in Chennai. An avid blogger, he has been writing regularly for the last five years on his blog ‘Sublimation’. His writings range from the deeply philosophical meditations to depicting the inherent humor present in our daily lives, from appreciation of art to writing poetry and doing book reviews. His other interests include painting and music.

'Darkness and Beyond – A Medley of Many Lives' is GS.Subbu’s second book. While in the first book 'I am just An Ordinary Man' a fictional autobiography he dealt with the process of growing up and aging, addressing the questions and the existential angst which arise in the mind of any person during the process of living, 'Darkness and Beyond' is all about being part of a larger process of understanding through the lives of others that it is ‘Hope’ which takes us forward in living an authentic life.

His first book: I am Just an Ordinary Man has been reviewed in Writer's Ezine - my online magazine in February 2015 Issue and the author has been interviewed in the same issue.

My Views:

I am not too good at multi-tasking. I cannot read a book IF my mind is too occupied with other stuff. Therefore, when I was approached by the author to review this book I was not sure when I would review it and whether I would be able to do justice to the book.
At first I assumed it to be non-fiction. I had not read the blurb then. When I really picked up the book to read (e-book) I read the blurb and the introduction by the author mentioning that this is a work of fiction.

Since I read the introduction, I was not surprised to find out that there was a touch of reality to the first story. The first-person narration makes one believe that the book is non-fiction.

1. Roots
2. The Old Man and I - Darkness and Beyond
3. Waiting for Deliverance
4. Master Moshai
5. A Man and A Woman
6. A Light in the Darkness
7. The Patriarch
8. The Savant
9. Tonsured - A Tale of Two Widows

These 9 short stories - a slice of nine lives, though begin and progress on a different path, end in one - Hope. (as clearly mentioned in the blurb). I could write in detail about each story but I won't. The author has done a good job with explanation on each chapter in his introduction.

The maturity and experience of the author shines throughout the book. The smooth flow of narration makes the book an easy and quick read. The description of the setting and detailed character portrayal is one of the best things about the book and also one of the reasons why one tends to believe this to be non-fiction (as opposed to the author's claim that it is work of fiction).
The story flow and description of character's feelings in each story makes it easy and natural to empathize with the protagonists.

I read this book twice. Once with text-to-speech of kindle fire and second time on my own.
'Roots' is my favourite from the book.
The quotes at the beginning of each chapter/story play their role in adding weight to the story.

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness." - Alex Haley, Roots.

"We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond the senses." - Helen Keller

These are two of my favorite quotes out of the nine.

I cannot think of any cons that would reflect poorly on the quality of the book. Maybe a couple of typos - easy to ignore.  That's it.

I would definitely recommend this book to my readers. It is not one of the books to read over a cup of tea/coffee but it's not even one of those that require too much of deeper reading. There is something to learn in each chapter/story, though.
It does not matter if you pick up this book with expectations; you won't be disappointed. Happy reading.

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