Thursday, April 14, 2016

Review: Graffiti by Joanie Pariera

Graffiti by Joanie Pariera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


"Dealing With Personal Freedom In A Changing Global India"
Told partly in first person, GRAFFITI is a humorous look at how people fall short of the expectations we have of them, dealing with friends or acquaintances enduring bereavement or similar tragic events. It is the story of Vipin, an Indian techie working in the USA, as he tries to cope with death of his wife. His few friends and colleagues offer little solace, but not for lack of trying. In fact, their well-meaning attempts are a constant source of frustration for Vipin.

Meanwhile he meets Rene, who while on an assignment from Bangalore, almost magically transforms his life. However Rene, a flighty, somewhat silly techie herself, has baggage of her own as Vipin soon realizes. They come in all shapes and sizes. There is Agni, Rene's ex, Mark, a distant shadow and a formidable contender, and a 'BFF' Upasana (Upi), who unwittingly adds to the confusion. Not that Vipin ever acknowledges he's actually interested in Rene in that special way, but by the time he is ready to do that, doing his own ‘growing-up’, will it be too late?

In an “All’s ‘as best as it can be’ that ends ‘somewhat’ well” tale, Graffiti, explores the raw emotions that the characters go through while being only partially aware that they don’t exist in a vacuum.  


My Review:
So, Graffiti is quite a different read, but a very good one.

I’m always a bit wary when a book’s description (in this case, the one on Goodreads) claims it is funny, but this time it was correct. It took a bit to get to the funny stuff, as it had to get through some of Vipin’s sorrow and guilt and set the stage for the other characters who feature heavily in the story. It also starts off a bit flowery and choppy, with some rather generously applied commas, but I think that perhaps this was on purpose to highlight how broken Vipin was because it smooths out considerably in later chapters.

The whole thing is told from various perspectives, though only Vipin’s portions are told in the first person. That made it just a wee bit difficult to pick out whom the main characters were at first, but that becomes obvious soon enough as the same ones keep coming up. I actually found myself rooting for Rene the most, followed by sympathizing/empathizing with Mark and wondering how Vipin would get straightened out.

Then that movie star. Oh man, and the whole debacle around all that. I can’t say anything but that this was where it got really funny. Only thing is that I’m still not exactly sure how it ends with him. The words that reveal it could be taken one of two ways, and I do have a preference in how to interpret them, though I suspect that wasn’t the intent. I can’t, however, give any more details.

Anyhow, I figured I’d give this book a shot and I’m glad I did. It’s a very fascinating read that really delves into Indian social norms clashing with modern expectations and all the trouble that causes those trying to find their way through it all. I loved how this is woven into an enjoyable story, just making the world seem a bit smaller and a bit larger, all at once.

I loved this story and would totally recommend it to folks who dig a unique romantic comedy mixed with some deeper content. It’s geared towards adult readers, but despite some grownup language, concepts and situations, I’d call this a rather clean read.

I received a copy of this book from the author in order to provide an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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