Friend Circle

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Zahir - My Review

The basic premise of the book is pretty simple: the wife has left without any explanation and the husband is trying to figure out why.

The quest for the reasons forces him to reflect on their marriage and his past, which in turn leads him to ask questions such as what is “love” or true meaning of “happiness”. At some point in their long marriage, the husband and the wife became “conveniences” for each other without realizing what they got married for at the first place has slowly faded away. People chase their “dreams” all through their lives. For some it is better career and beautiful girlfriends/wife, for some other it is better home and children or money. But what do you do when you have everything you ever wanted? Is that all there is to a life?

Some may be inclined to discard it as a mid-life crisis or psychological or philosophical blabber and that’s perfectly okay but then did they really appreciate the questions? You have to wonder!

The high points for me, were flashbacks of discussions between husband and his female counterparts (yes, that’s plural), husband’s lecture on his own book at Geneva and the passage when a beggar asks him if he really knew what “poverty” is? The parts on cult and clairvoyant were bit weird but seem quite plausible. I guess they gel with the flow of the book.

All in all reading it was a time well spent. A John Grisham novel may thrill your senses but stimulating your intellect is an entirely different matter. This book may do it to you. Think the buzz of a strong black coffee if you know what I mean. Except at a deeper level.

I have to confess the author has intrigued me enough and I will have to read more of his work some time in the future. Can't take too much "black coffee" at once :-)

Thanks Darshan!


  • Hey, that was a quick read, Harsh. How do you manage to get so much time? I get about 1 Hr per day, basically on my bus journey, if I am lucky enough. So, a book would take atleast 2 weeks.. except perhaps Dan Brown book, which drags you into the book.. :)

    Coming to the book itself, it is a Philosophical fiction, as I said before. Feeds you with lot of points to think about, which we take for granted, including whatever you have listed here.

    But, tell me Harsh, what is your analysis on the ending? Why did Coelho end the book saying that the wife was carrying a child, of some other guy, not even that of Mikhail? What then, in his view, is the meaning of Love? :)

    By Blogger Darshan, at 2/20/2006 7:13 AM  

  • I guess I’m getting a little more time than usual because Surabhi and Anusha are not here. Nothing much to do over the weekend, you see.

    I miss the good old times in blore: the bus ride and the TOI. Sigh!

    SPOILER ALERT: Those who haven’t read the book and wish to read it may not want to go any further. The following reveals some critical book details.

    The entire book is from the point of view of the husband. So we are lead to see things the way he sees it. But if you take a step back and think about how the wife is looking at the whole situation I think the answers become a little clearer. Here is an excerpt from the last chapter:

    “I’ve waited for you in so many ways. Like a desperate wife who knows that her husband has never understood her life, and that he will never come to her, and she has no option but to get on a plane and go back, only to leave again after the next crisis, then go back and leave and go back….”

    And a little later:

    “I suffered greatly. I realized that I had set off on a path of no return and that when one does that, one can only go forward.”

    It’s difficult to deny that they were the love of each other’s life but I think this time the wife had had enough and was moving on with her life. After all it has been two years since she left him and there are only so many times you can try to repair a decaying marriage. The husband has come to her so that gives her a glimmer of hope and I think she wants to give themselves another shot. Besides she seemed more sensible of the two (generally speaking, isn't that almost always the case :-), it was only natural that she'd be honest about the baby.

    BTW, it is not clear if the baby is NOT of Mikhail either. She just says he was someone who stayed with her for a while. It could be anyone.

    By Blogger Harsh, at 2/21/2006 6:37 AM  

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