211 pgs. $9.80
Mumbai Matinee was a refreshing surprise. As a fan of traveling and of adventure, the title alone had me at hello. Being a lover of movies as well, it was a perfect pairing of words strewn together to catch my eye. Curiosity abounded in each story, making it a riveting read all the way around.
The book is eight short stories long, giving you a well-rounded view of some of the protagonists’ experiences in and around Mumbai. Each story is a rumination on certain aspects of everyday life. Stories about love and loss. Another about paying it forward and sacrificing for future generations. Yet another about dignity and tenacity. Each one speaks to the human condition, delving deep into the feelings and experiences we all share.
Connecting to the characters becomes easy because we’ve experienced similar stories ourselves, in the end learning the same lessons the characters do. Regardless of cultural backgrounds, skin color, or religion, we all share the same shortcomings and lessons learned. The unfolding of lives lived knows no difference.
If the cornerstone for any good book is curiosity then this book had it in spades. Curiosity was its own character. It is felt in every single story. There was no judgment of circumstances. It was a nice diversion from stories I’ve read in the past.
Chapter Seven was the hardest for me to read. I know nothing of the sport of cricket, yet if I did I’m quite sure it would have made more sense. That is not the author’s shortcoming, but my own—the storyline and characters were there, but the lingo was difficult for me to follow as I don’t know how the game is played. Maybe because of this book I will look up where I feel I’ve fallen short. Learning new things knows no age limit.
Ajay Kaul’s characters, or the actual people in which he is referring to (the book is described as “truth-based fiction” based on his actual travels to Mumbai), come alive. He did a bang-up job of drawing me into the story. Several times he made me cry. Three times, in fact, much to the chagrin of my more unemotional side.
Here’s the thing: if you are a fan of books about the human condition, exploring what makes people tick, and are into traveling and adventure, Mumbai Matinee will not disappoint. If you find yourself daydreaming about faraway places, this book is a great escape. If you love great short stories and yearn for more, then this is a great book as well. If there was a disappointment to be had, it would be that the stories weren’t longer. Each one of these stories could have been lengthened. I was always left wanting more. Maybe that was the whole point all along, for I can’t wait till his next book comes out. | Keva Bartnick