Book Review #61: Jasmine Days

Name: Jasmine Days
Author: Translated by Benyamin (to Malayalam) from the original in Arabic titled A Spring without Fragrance by Sameera Parvin
Translated by: Shahnaz Habib (from Malayalam to English)
No. of Pages: 264
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Juggernaut
Price: Rs. 499/- 
Published in: 2018 

How did I get it? From the publisher. 

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.

Benyamin (born 1971, Benny Daniel) is an Indian novelist and short story writer in Malayalam language from Nhettur, Kulanada, Pattanamtitta district of the south Indian state of Kerala. He is residing in the Kingdom of Bahrain since 1992, from the age of twenty, and his works appear regularly on Malayalam publications in Kerala. His Aadujeevitham (Goat Days) was a huge success that has been reprinted more than a hundred times and has sold over two lak copies. It won him the Kerela Sahitya Akademi Award and has been translated into may languages.
Shahnaz Habib teaches writing at The New School and Bay Path University and consults for the United Nations. Born and raised in Kerela, she now lives in New York.
“Jasmine Days” is set against the backdrop of the Arab Springs. It gives a glimpse into the lives of many immigrants from the Indian subcontinent working and residing in the middle eastern countries. Sameera moves to the City to join her father and many of her immediate family. Outspoken and a rebel, she lands up in her dream job of being a Radio Jockey. But her life comes to a halt when she is crushed between the two parties to an uprising, her family in a adopted land and her best friend on the two opposing sides.
The plot and the events are very real and they should have haunted me day and night. But somehow I couldn’t connect with the protagonist. It seemed as if the emotional connect had been lost in translation. And the original writing has been translated twice.
Nonetheless, it is good read and gives you an understanding of the revolts and revolutionary uprisings in the middle-eastern nations, and how dictatorship works. The oppressors and the leaders representing the oppressed draw their swords and innocent blood is spilled. It shows how such incidents and rule affect ordinary lives and regular citizens of the country, how people cry to lead normal lives but they are scarred for generations instead.
I give “Jasmine Days”


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