Sunday, July 31, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had Room by Emma Donoghue on my TBR list for a very long time. Lot of reviews pronounced it disturbing and depressing. Despite my apprehension about reading a sad book, I was excited about reading it. So much so that I had to abandon a Ishiguro book and start this one. On another note, my jinx of Ishiguro books continues. I borrowed Never let me Go twice and never finished it and now Remains of the day looks like it will be read sometime in future only !.Back to Room - I loved the book from start to finish. How can you not love a book that starts thus?

Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in wardrobe, but when I wake up in bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before I was three, then two, then one, then zero.”Was I minus numbers?”

Jack and his Ma are held captors in a 12by 12 shed they call “The Room”. Ma’s been there for 7 years now and Jack has just turned five .The only company they have had over the years is a television set,not to mention the nightly visits of old Nick, their captor. Jack thinks Dora and other cartoon characters on TV are his friends. He doesn’t know yet that there is a whole world outside the Room. Though Ma secretly hopes that one day they’ll be rescued, Jack doesn’t know that they are captives. He’s perfectly happy in his 12 by 12 world. The love Jack and Ma share is so adorable. Soon, Jack structured life is about to change as Ma decides that they have had enough of the Room and wants them to get out. If I describe the plot more, I might have to give out a spoiler alert, so I am not going to go into the plot and talk about other aspects of the book.

I loved how Emma chose to tell the tale from Jack’s point of view and not stick to a more jaded adult view. Jack’s narration is innocent and strangely funny at the same time. There is no remorse associated with the narration because Jack simply doesn’t feel that he is being held a captive. Everything is just one big game for him. Through most of the book, Emma manages to stay faithful to Jack’s voice- Jack does sound like a normal, affectionate and an extremely inquisitive five year old. Briefly, a couple of times, I found Jack’s tone slightly more “Adult” and wondered if it was done deliberately to show that Jack had matured or whether it was a genuine slip.

Though the subject is rather depressing, the treatment is most refreshing that at any point of time I didn’t feel excessively sad or depressed. The tone is so matter-of-fact that it doesn’t give you much scope to brood too much. Another aspect that goes in favor of the books is its pace- the book doesn’t sag for a minute and keeps you on tenterhooks most of the time wondering what else is going to happen. That said, it’s not an overly action oriented book, just that Jack’s views on everything is so refreshing.

This book, however made me wonder about something that I’ve always wondered about- What really makes a book literary fiction? If it is long difficult words and sentences that make you want to reach out for a dictionary pronto, then Room doesn’t qualify as literary fiction. The words are simple (obvious choice because of the narrator being a five year old), sentences never too long and most of it as conversations between Ma and Jack or plainly stated as Jack’s thoughts.What probably makes it literary fiction is that its beautifully sculpted and extremely poignant. In fact, if not for Jack’s “voice”, the book would have been yet another story about abuse victims. I am so glad that I picked up Room. I recommend it highly to everyone. My rating : 4/5

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  1. I have been thinking about this one. I am not sure about literary fiction, I think all that I want is readable fiction :D

  2. I read this book some times back and enjoyed it too.. Actually, this book is inspired from a true story.. Fritzl case..Love the way u have explored all the aspects of the book.. Cheers

  3. Veens.. Oh, its highly readable if not anything else !

    Jyoti.. Thanks dear.I didnt know it was the fritzi case.. Thanks, will google it now.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation and the positive review, this title is creeping higher up Mt TBR :)

  5. Lindy.. ha ha ha.. another one inching up Mt TBR !

  6. A oh so lovelily written review; forgive the adjectification of an adjective, but that was the precise feeling I got while reading the review.

  7. lol at the adjectification ! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts.